Asparagus and Walnut Phyllo Pie (aka Asparagus Baklava) with Avgolemono Sauce

Asparagus Phyllo Pie (Baklava) with Avgolemono Sauce

Not too long ago I came across this truly inspired recipe for a savoury asparagus baklava on innBrooklyn that sounded so amazingly good that I just had to try it! This asparagus phyllo pie is constructed like baklava with layers of light, flaky golden brown phyllo alternating with the layers of a walnut and asparagus filling and a cheese filling. Given the layers of cheese in this pie, it also reminds me of a lasagna, only made with phyllo instead of noodles. The combination of the cheese and the asparagus also made me think of spanakopita , a Greek spinach and feta pie that is another savoury pie made with phyllo and I could not resist swapping some feta into the recipe replacing some of the mozzarella. Continuing to be influenced by spanakopita I wanted to use some fresh herbs and dill seemed like the perfect choice.

Asparagus with a Poached Egg in a Dill and Caper Avgolemono Sauce

Asparagus with a Poached Egg in a Dill and Caper Avgolemono Sauce

Although hollandaise sauce is amazingly good, it is a guilty please given that it has a half a cup of butter in it. While I was enjoying the asparagus with a poached egg in hollandaise sauce earlier in the week, the lemony nature of the sauce reminded me of another lemony sauce, avgolemono sauce . An avgolemono sauce is a Greek egg and lemon based sauce that is really tasty without all of the butter. In addition to the egg and the lemon juice, avgolemono needs a liquid and that liquid is commonly the liquid of dish that you will be adding the sauce to, though you could always use a broth or a stock. Since I would be serving my avgolemono sauce on asparagus I used the water that I cooked the asparagus in as the liquid in the sauce. Normally an avgolemono sauce would be finished with this but I commonly associate dill and capers with lemony sauces and I could not resist adding some to this one. Of course you can turn this from a side dish to a light meal that is perfect for breakfast or brunch by topping it off with a poached egg.

Salmon Bulgogi

Salmon Bulgogi

This weekend I got the chance to visit a Korean food festival here in Toronto and since then I have been thinking about Korean cuisine. While I was there I got to watch a chef make some bulgogi which is definitely one of my favorite Korean dishes. Bulgogi is a dish where the meat it marinated in a sweet, salty, spicy and all round flavourful marinade that uses many classic Korean ingredients. Over the last while I have made several versions of bulgogi including beef bulgogi , pork bulgogi , chicken bulgogi , and even a pineapple chicken bulgogi (which I use to make some Korean/Mexican fusion tacos al pastor ). I had been thinking about trying a salmon bulgogi for a while and now was the perfect to to do so.

For the salmon bulgogi recipe I simply used the bulgogi marinade recipe that I have been using for a while now. One of the things that I like about this recipe is that it uses a Korean/Asian pear to add sweetness and help tenderize the meat. Normally bulgogi meat is cut thinly and cooked in a pan or even a grill pan but for salmon fillets, I had to go with roasting them in the oven. I could not stand to see all of that tasty marinade go to waste so while the salmon was in the oven I simmered the marinade in a pan on the stove top and then I spooned it over the salmon before serving it. When I make other types of bulgogi I often use the meat in Korean/Mexican fusion dishes like tacos, burritos, quesadillas, etc. but this time I just wanted to enjoy the salmons buttery, melt in your mouth goodness. I served the salmon bulgogi over some simple steamed, in season asparagus to make it into a nice light meal.

Asparagus and Spinach Quiche

Asparagus and Spinach Quiche

Asparagus and eggs go well together and they can be used to make quite a few really good breakfast or brunch dishes and I have been making more than a few of them lately. Up next is a quiche and I could not let spring slip by without making at least one quiche with asparagus in it. I've done the asparagus and mushroom quiche quite a lot so I thought that it was time for a change and an asparagus and spinach quiche sounded like a good idea. With two healthy vegetables in there already I figured that it would be alright to add a bit of flavour in the form of some bacon and cheese. The last few times that I have made quiche, I have used a brown rice crust but this time I wanted to live a little more dangerously and I went with a full butter pastry crust . I had recently come across a quiche that was made in a spring-form pan rather than the more standard pie plate and I liked the sound of a 'deep-dish' quiche so I had to try making one. Though, I was a bit worried that the middle might not set too well so I did not increase the the volume of the filling by all that much. The 'deep-dish' asparagus and spinach quiche turned out really well! The eggs set nicely all the way through, the crust was nice and light and flaky and buttery good and the quiche was just packed with flavour! Another excellent way to enjoy asparagus and spring! The quiche leftovers heat up well in the microwave and the make for quick and tasty breakfasts on work days. (The next time that I make a 'deep-dish' quiche I will have to try making it truly deep-dish. It would be nice to see a two inch tall slice of quiche!)

Asparagus with a Poached Egg in Hollandaise Sauce

Asparagus with a Poached Egg in Hollandaise Sauce

The farmers market is full of the fresh local asparagus and I certainly have been taking advantage of it. I made quite a few asparagus dishes this week and up first was asparagus in a hollandaise sauce . A hollandaise sauce is a buttery and lemony sauce that is purely decadent and so creamy and good! Hollandaise sauce goes really well with the juicy asparagus and the brightness of the lemon in the sauce makes it perfect of spring and summer. Hollandaise sauce can be a bit tricky to make, but once you get the hang of it, it is actually pretty easy though it does take a bit of time for all that whisking. Because of the time that it takes to make the hollandaise sauce this recipe is perfect for a weekend breakfast or brunch. I often like to top everything off with a poached egg to make it more of a light meal. This has to be one of the best ways to enjoy some fresh asparagus in the spring!

Kiwi and Nutella Crepes

Nutella and Kiwi Crepes

I always enjoy combining nutella, a chocolate hazelnut spread, with fruit and some of my favorite fruit to pair with it includes bananas, apples and mangoes. I had not thought about combining nutella with kiwis but when I came across some kiwi and nutella crepes on Taste Space I knew that it was going to be another winner. Luckily there is still an abundance of cheap kiwis at the grocery stores and with the extra time to spend on breakfasts on the weekend it was the perfect time to whip some up. Crepes can be a little difficult to make but other than that, these treats are pretty easy to make. The kiwi an nutella crepes were really good! The sweet a juice kiwis pair beautifully with the creamy and chocolaty spread.

Spinach Pesto Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Spinach Pesto Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Cheesy Ramp "Garlic" Bread

Roasted Asparagus Soup with Cheesy Ramp

With the fresh local asparagus season just starting, the first thing on my list to make was the asparagus soup with morel mushrooms and ramps that I enjoyed so much last year. Unfortunately I was not able to find any morel mushrooms but I knew the soup would taste great even without them and besides, this time I wanted to try roasting the asparagus so there would be even more flavour from that. I was thinking that just a bowl of asparagus soup was a little light even for a light meal and I thought that some garlic bread, which is my favorite side for soup, would fill it out a bit. I had some ramps left over form the soup and I thought that the fresh ramps would make a great substitute for garlic in a "garlic" bread. One bonus was that if I included the ramps leaves then I would not need to add parsley to the "garlic" butter to add some green. The ramp garlic bread turned out so amazingly well! I really enjoyed the sense of freshness that the ramps had over the garlic and it went really well in the bread and the bread went perfectly with the asparagus soup.

Buffalo Chicken Salad

Buffalo Chicken Salad

Last week I enjoyed the BBQ chicken with blue cheese slaw wraps so much that I just had to get more of those flavours. The flavours in the wraps reminded me of buffalo wings, pub style where the spicy hot wings are served with a blue cheese dip and some sticks of celery and carrots. Although I was not looking for a greasy meal like chicken wings, a buffalo chicken style salad would be a healthier way to get those flavours. The buffalo chicken salad is a lettuce based salad that includes the carrots and celery, a blue cheese dressing and is topped with a grilled chicken breast that is covered in hot sauce. If you have got your blue cheese dressing ready then this salad is as easy as chopping some vegetables and grilling up some chicken. This salad makes for a pretty nice light meal for a warm summer day and it is certainly packed with flavour.

Blue Cheese Dressing

Blue Cheese Dressing

I very often make my own dressings, though they seem to get lost in the shuffle and I rarely write about them so every once in a while I like to highlight one. Given my total addiction to blue cheese it is not surprising that a blue cheese dressing is among my favorite dressings to make at home and it is quite simple to do so. Your basic blue cheese dressing is very similar to a blue cheese dip where you simply give it more of a dressings consistency by swapping in some buttermilk for some of the thicker ingredients. You can easily tailor this recipe to give you your favourite consistency by replacing some of the sour cream with butter milk to make it thinner or replacing some of the buttermilk with sour cream to make it thicker. The main trick to a nice and smooth blue cheese dressing is to start with a softer blue cheese and to let it come up to room temperature before you mix it in. A blue cheese dressing also likes to sit around for a while to let the flavours meld together so making it a day ahead is recommended. I also enjoy adding a chopped fresh herb like dill every so often and it is always a nice way to change things up.

Maple Dijon Grilled Chicken

Maple Dijon Grilled Chicken

With maple dijon flavour combo already on my mind with the maple dijon roasted asparagus I was thinking about some grilled chicken using the same flavours. During the summer, one of my favourite quick, easy and tasty meals is to simply marinate some chicken breasts and then throw them on the grill. Add some sides like the asparagus and a salad and you have a nice, flavourful light meal. This maple dijon chicken is as easy as marinating the chicken in the maple and dijon mustard and then grilling it up. I served the chicken with some of the maple dijon vinaigrette left over from the maple dijon roasted asparagus to get even more of that maple dijon flavour combo including a nice hit of the grainy mustard. Note: Asparagus also grills up well so feel free to grill the asparagus rather than roasting it in the oven.

Maple Dijon Roasted Asparagus

Maple Dijon Roasted Asparagus

I know that I have said it before but, my favorite way of cooking a lot of vegetables is by roasting them and asparagus is no different. Roasting the asparagus seems to concentrate its flavour while at the same time making it nice and tender. Thinner asparagus will roast up very quickly but thicker asparagus can take its time. Once you have the asparagus roasted, it is easy to add flavours from simple to more complex and one of my favorite ways of dressing up roasted asparagus is to toss it in a home made vinaigrette. Recently, I have been into grainy mustard and the first thing that came to mind for this roasted asparagus was a maple dijon vinaigrette with a healthy dose of grainy mustard. The maple dijon vinaigrette pairs particularly well with asparagus as the juicy asparagus can easy cut through the intense flavours of the dressing balancing everything out perfectly.

Rhubarb Compote

Rhubarb Compote

While I was at the farmers market on the weekend I came across some of the first local field rhubarb that I have seen this year and I picked some up. With rhubarb not being on my meal plan this week I decided to go with a very simple, but very good classic, a rhubarb compote. A compote is dessert where fruit is simmered in a simple syrup optionally with some spices and in this case I simmered the rhubarb in some orange juice along with some sugar. The key to a good rhubarb compote is to balance the natural tartness of the rhubarb with the sweetness of the sugar without completely overwhelming it as you want some of that tartness to come through. An easy way to achieve this goal is to add the sugar a bit at a time and taste test as you go, adding more as needed as it cooks. Compotes are normally served chilled but I tend to find it hard to wait for it to cool down and then chill and besides, it goes so perfectly on vanilla ice cream or frozen vanilla yogurt. The still warm compote melts into the ice cream combining warm and cool with sweet and tart so beautifully! After letting it chill it goes well on a nice thick Greek style yogurt and surprisingly enough, on cottage cheese.

Spinach Pesto Pasta with Paprika Grilled Chicken

Spinach Pesto Pasta with Paprika Grilled Chicken

Armed with my shiny new spinach and feta pesto I needed to try it out on something and of course the first thing that came to mind was pasta but I was looking for something a little more this time. One of the easiest ways to make a pasta a bit more of a meal is to add chicken and I was thinking that some contrasting paprika grilled chicken would go nicely with a spanakopita pesto pasta. I garnished the pasta with some walnuts and feta, mirroring the flavours already in the pesto.

Spinach Pesto (aka Spanakopita Pesto)

Spinach Pesto (aka Spanakopita Pesto)

The other week when I made the asparagus and ramp pesto pasta I realized that even though I use spinach in pestos a lot, it always plays a supporting role and it is never the star. This got me to thinking and one thing led to another and I soon found myself remembering spanakopita, a Greek spinach pie , and before I knew it I was coming up with a way to include all of the flavours of spanakopita in a spinach pesto. One of my favourite things about spanakopita is all of the fresh herbs so I had to include some fresh dill, mint and parsley in the pesto. Pestos often include a nut and the walnut seemed like the natural choice as thoughts of baklava danced through my head. Of course the cheese just had to feta! The spanakopita pesto turned out great! It has all of the flavours of spanakopita including an amazing freshness that just screams spring.

Nutella and Caramelized Banana Sandwich

Nutella and Caramelized Banana Sandwich

Even though I have been enjoying the banana upside-down cake all week, I was craving more of that caramelized banana-y goodness. The chocolate and banana flavour combo in the cake reminded me of an oldie but a favorite, the nutella and banana sandwich and with that thought, I had to try the caramelized banana version! This little treat is quick and easy to whip up and it is so addictively good! Caramelizing the bananas makes them sweeter and more intense and the fact that they are still warm means that they melt right into the nutella making it even better.

Pistachio and Gorgonzola Risotto

Pistachio and Gorgonzola Risotto with Asparagus

One day, not too long ago, I was minding my own business as I surfed the web looking at food when I was stopped dead in my tracks. What did that just say? Pistachio and gorgonzola risotto ? I have done gorgonzola risottos before so I know how good they can be, but I never would have thought to add pistachios and they just happen to be my favorite nut at the moment. This pistachio and gorgonzola risotto is pretty much a standard risotto where the more regular cheese, the parmigiano reggiano is replaced with gorgonzola dolce, a soft blue cheese, and of course some pistachios are added. Other than taking a bit of time to make, as all risottos do, this one was pretty easy and it turned out great! The risotto was so nice and creamy with the blue cheese adding a pleasant mellow tanginess and the flavour complimented the pistachios fantastically. The pistachios also added a nice contrast in texture and toasting the pistachios ahead of time aided their crunchiness. You could serve this amazing risotto as a side dish or as I did this time, as a light meal. With asparagus in season I could not help but serve some, simply steamed, with the risottos and it was the perfect combination with the juicy asparagus refreshing your palate after each bite of the rich and creamy risotto.

BBQ Chicken with Blue Cheese Slaw Wraps

BBQ Chicken with Blue Cheese Slaw Wraps

The reason behind making the blue cheese cole slaw and the bbq sauce was for these bbq chicken with blue cheese slaw wraps that I recently came across on Naturally Ella . The combination of the warm, tender shredded chicken cover in a sweet, tangy and spicy bbq sauce and the creamy blue cheese cole slaw sounded like such an amazing flavour combination that I just had to make it right away. The flavour combinations reminded me of buffalo chicken wings with a blue cheese dipping sauce that that ignited the cravings. These wraps do not take long to whip up, especially since you should make the slaw and bbq sauce ahead of time so that their flavours can mellow out and I almost always have some cooked and shredded chicken in the freezer for quick meals. Despite being so easy to make, these wraps are fantastically good! The flavours work perfectly together and the crisp cabbage provides a nice crunchy contrast in texture. I think I will be making a second batch of these really soon!

BBQ Sauce

BBQ Sauce

Although there are a ton of bbq sauces available, I had been wanting to try making my own for a while and now was the perfect time as I had something in mind. As it turns out, making your own bbq is pretty easy and you probably have all of the ingredients that you need. Bbq sauce generally starts with a tomato base such as ketchup and adds something for sweetness, vinegar for a tanginess and some kind of heat. You can play around with the basic ingredients and you can add other ingredients to come up with whatever flavours you want. I stuck with a pretty simple bbq sauce for my first attempt and it turned out pretty good! It was a nice blend of tangy, sweet and spicy and it as full of flavour. I enjoyed the texture that the grated onion added and the smokiness that the chipotle chili powder and smoked paprika was really nice. Stay tuned to see what I use it in.

Blue Cheese Coleslaw

Blue Cheese Coleslaw

With us being well into spring now, I have started thinking more about summer fare including picnics and barbecues. A staple of both is your basic coleslaw that can be used either as a side or as a condiment in sandwiches. One of the great things about coleslaw is that the recipe is so easy to change and it just invites you to play around with it. I recently came across the concept of a blue cheese coleslaw and being the blue cheese fanatic that I am, I could not resist whipping up a batch. This cole slaw follows a pretty simple coleslaw recipe save for the addition of the crumbled blue cheese but one other nice addition is the grainy mustard which I have been really enjoying lately. The key to this blue cheese coleslaw is allowing it to have time to mellow so feel free to make it in the morning or even the day before. After letting the flavours mingle in the fridge for a while this coleslaw is truly amazing! It is just packed with flavour and the blue cheese gives it a really nice creaminess that will have you coming back for more. You can easily doubled this recipe and feel free to use a bag of pre-chopped cabbage to save a bit of time.

Banana Upside Down Cake with Chocolate Chips

Banana Upside Down Cake with Chocolate Chips

Whenever I have bananas that have gotten a little too ripe, I let them go until they are over ripe at which time I toss them into the freezer until the next time a recipe calls for over ripe bananas. Of course my favorite recipes that call for over ripe bananas are banana breads which are really easy to make and are always so good! The other day, I encountered some of those over ripe bananas in my freezer and I thought that it was the perfect time to make a banana bread! I had just been itching to try something new with the next banana bread that I made and this was the perfect opportunity. Banana bread recipes, and in fact all quick bread recipes, are very similar to cake recipes and I had been wanting to try making my next banana bread in the form of an upside-down banana cake topped with caramelized banana slices!

For the recipe, I decided to start with my recipe for a chocolate chip and sour cream banana bread and I simply made it in a cake pan rather than a loaf pan with a layer of brown sugar and butter topped with sliced bananas on the bottom. I also modified the recipe slightly by replacing some of the all purpose flour with some whole wheat flour. The banana upside down cake turned out really well! The brown sugar and butter on the bottom caramelized with the bananas perfectly creating a beautiful layer of caramelized banana-y goodness. The rest of the banana cake was nice a light and moist. I normally eat quick breads like this for breakfast and yet I feel a little guiltier doing so when the same recipe is called a cake. Oh well, breakfasts are looking good for the next few days while the supplies last. :)

Fiddlehead Carbonara

Fiddlehead Carbonara

More of springs produce it quickly starting to show up at the markets and this weekend I came across some fiddleheads. Fiddleheads are young ferns that have yet to unfurl and they are quite edible, though they should be well cooked. I first came across fiddleheads last year and I used them to make a fiddlehead shrimp scampi that I quite enjoyed so I was looking forward to finding them again this year. Once again, I decided to use them in a pasta dish and this time I was thing that a carbonara style pasta would be the perfect way to show off the fiddleheads. I really like this carbonara style pasta because it is nice and quick and easy to make and it always tastes great! I also like this pasta as you can easily throw in vegetables like asparagus, zucchini or in this case fiddleheads. In addition to the fiddleheads, I used another of springs bounty in this dish by replacing the garlic with a ramp or a wild leak. This pasta was an amazing way to enjoy the first of the fiddleheads this year and I am looking forward to doing more with them!

Tandoori Chicken Quesadillas

Tandoori Chicken Quesadillas

Once the creative juices started flowing, they just kept on going and up next was tandoori chicken quesadillas. I made sure to include a bit of heat in the marinade for the tandoori chicken and of course the spicy chicken reminded me of texmex food, quesadillas in particular. I figured the spicy tandoori chicken would work well in a quesadilla but it seemed a little lonely and I thought that some sauteed onions and peppers would help round things out. After that it was just a matter of adding cheese, placing everything in between two tortillas and grilling it up. The spicy tandoori chicken worked really well in quesadilla form! It was just like a regular quesadilla except that the distinctly Indian flavours from the tandoori marinade were coming through. I served the quesadillas with a quick, finely diced pico de galo .

Tandoori Chicken Melt

Tandoori Chicken Melt

You knew this was coming right? :) Just by looking at the list of ingredients in the marinade for the tandoori chicken I knew that it would be packed with flavour and I thought: Wouldn't that tasty chicken tandoori make for a great chicken salad sandwich? And wouldn't that sandwich be even better if it had cheese and it was buttered up and grilled until the cheese melted? With that thought I knew that I would have to try it out and so I doubled the chicken tandoori recipe so that I would have plenty of extra to play with. I kept the tandoori chicken salad pretty simple, adding mayo, onions, cilantro and an extra hit of chili pepper heat. The grilled cheese chicken tandoori salad sandwich turned out really well! The flavour of the tandoori marinade came through in the sandwich and it was pretty amazing when combined with the mayo and the hit of lemon juice. I could not resist serving the sandwich with a side of mango chutney which somehow seemed appropriate. I will definitely need to make sure to make extra tandoori chicken the next time that I make it so that I can make more of these sandwiches.

Poutine with a Mushroom Gravy

Poutine with a Mushroom Gravy

The other day I was reading an article on the best places to get poutine in Toronto and ever since I have been craving it. Poutine is a dish consisting of french fries topped with fresh cheese curds and smothered in hot gravy. Now this is certainly not the healthiest meal around so I do not eat it very often but it is so good that I just have to have it every once in a while. With poutine, you want to use the best ingredients that you can including homemade french fries and the freshest cheese curds that you can find. The gravy is where all of the flavour is so you can go to all out on it and make a really rich and tasty one. Classic poutine uses a simple, though flavourful, gravy but I wanted to try something new this time and I went with a mushroom gravy. I started the mushroom gravy by sauteing some onions along with the mushrooms and then I started layering on flavours with garlic, thyme and a splash of red wine. From there I made a roux and then thinned everything out to the consistency of gravy with broth. The mushroom poutine was so amazingly good! I have to say that this is now my favourite poutine and given the mushroom addict that I am this is not too much of a surprise.

Grilled Tandoori Chicken

Grilled Tandoori Chicken

After watching Rob Rainford grilling up a storm Monday night, I had the itch to do some grilling as well. When I scanned through my 'to try' list the first thing to jump out at me was tandoori chicken. Tandoori chicken is an Indian roasted chicken dish where the chicken is marinated in a spicy yogurt that is seasoned with masala and chili peppers. I don't know what it is about meat on a stick but it certainly is one of my favorite ways to grill up some chicken and I figured that a skewered, grilled, chicken tandoori would be really good. I went with a pretty simple recipe adding some fresh lemon, onion, garlic and ginger to the yogurt followed by some spices including a homemade garam masala and some ceyenne pepper and hot and smoky paprika to add some heat and to give it the traditional red colouring. After letting the chicken marinate over night I pulled it out of the fridge and when I opened the bag up I just had to pause for a moment to enjoy the amazing aromatics. The chicken grilled up quickly and it was nice and juicy and full of flavour and oh so good! You can eat this tasty tandoori chicken as is, as a part of a larger meal or you could use it in a wrap or even in a curry like chicken tikka masala.

Salsa Verde Huevos Rancheros

Salsa Verde Huevos Rancheros

I am really into Mexican style egg breakfasts! They are always easy to make, super tasty, fulfilling and they are usually fairly healthy. Among the Mexican style egg breakfasts huevos rancheros has to be one of my favorites. Huevos rancheros consists of a fried tortilla topped with a fried egg and a tomato based sauce and from there you can add any extras you like. Some of my favorite extras are black beans or jalapeno spiced black beans , avocado, cilantro and a bit of cheese. Although I really like huevos rancheros with the tomato sauce, I had been been wanting to try them with a tomatillo salsa verde . The other week when I made the batch of salsa verde I made sure to make enough extra to be able to make some salsa verde huevos rancheros a few times that week. The salsa verde huevos rancheros worked out really well! You really can't go wrong with a freshly homemade batch of salsa verde and it this case it made the Mexican style egg breakfast sing with flavour!

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Bombay Sapphire Event with Rob Rainford and Merlin Griffiths

Rob Rainford at Bombay Sapphire Event

Monday night I had the opportunity to attend a Bombay Sapphire promotional event featuring Merlin Griffiths and Food Network Canada's Rob Rainford from License to Grill. Merlin Griffiths mixed gin cocktails while Rob Rainford pulled out the grill on a fine spring day in Toronto and gave us grilling tips for the summer.

For me, the highlight of the evening had to be when Rob Rainford made a melon soup, spiked with gin of course, where he smoked the melon in the grill. The smoky flavour in the sweet melon soup was amazing and I am definitely going to have to try smoking some melon this summer. Who would have thought to smoke a melon in the barbecue?

I brought my camera and took some photos of the event which I have uploaded to my Flickr Photo Gallery.

Merlin Griffith at Bombay Sapphire Event

Halibut Piccata with Baby Artichokes on Quinoa

Halibut Piccata with Baby Artichokes on Quinoa

After a few heavy meals on the weekend, I was looking for something on the lighter side and when thinking about lighter meals, seafood often comes to mind. I was lucky enough to come across some more baby artichokes on the weekend that I just had to pick up and I wanted to include them in the meal as I have been enjoying them a lot lately. One of the first things that came to mind was a piccata using a white fish along with the artichoke hearts. This white fish piccata is pretty similar to my favorite chicken piccata where the meat is cooked in the pan and then the pan is deglazed with white wine that along with some lemon, butter and capers forms a tasty sauce that is served over the meat. Picatta is often served over pasta or rice but as I have been using quinoa so often recently, that was the first thing that came to mind and I knew that it would absorb all of the extra lemon and caper sauce that dripped into it. Other than preparing the baby artichoke hearts, this meal is really easy to make, taking no more time than it takes to cook the quinoa and the results are well worth it! The picatta's lemony sauce works amazingly well with seafood and in this case it also infused the bed of quinoa with its amazing flavour. I served this meal with a side of simple steamed asparagus to give it another hit of springs bounty.

Bananas Foster Pancakes

Bananas Foster Pancakes

A while ago I caramelized some bananas for use in huevos motulenos and they were so good that they have been on my mind since. I noticed that I had some over ripe bananas in the freezer that were crying out to be used and I was thinking that I could kill to birds with one stone in the form of banana pancakes topped with caramelized bananas. For a recipe, I went with a pretty basic banana pancake recipe and I added some bananas caramelized in butter and brown sugar to top the pancakes. As I thought about it, the bananas caramelized in butter and brown sugar sounded an awful lot like the beginnings of bananas foster and all I would really need to do to finish it off was to add a splash of dark rum which I decided to do. The bananas foster pancakes turned out so fantastically well! The pancakes were nice and light and fluffy and had the amazing aroma and flavour of bananas all by themselves but then they topped them with even more banana-y goodness. I am glad that I decided to add the rum as brown sugar does not dissolve into butter all that well and as soon as I added the rum the sugar disolved and the whole thing turned into a beautifully thick syrup that was just packed with flavour! Note: Bananas foster is typically finished by igniting the alcohol but I chose to omit this step. :)