On Vacation

It seems like I just got back from Seattle and the IFBC 2010 and now I am rushing off to the airport again. It has been my rough goal to try to do one big vacation every other year. Two years ago it was Greece and the next place on my list was Italy. I certainly will miss all of the great local produce that is available right now while I am gone but Italy is calling my name. Italian cuisine was one of the first that I got into and it holds a special place with me. I am really looking forward to experiencing some of it from the source over the next few weeks!

The Canadian Thanksgiving is also coming up in two weeks (I will make it back just in time!) so I have added some Thanksgiving ideas to the sidebar.

Time to get going. I'll be back in two weeks!

Fried Green Tomato and Shrimp Remoulade Po Boy

Fried Green Tomato and Shrimp Remoulade Po Boy

After enjoying the fried green tomatoes with shrimp remoulade so much last week, I simply could not resist turning it into a po’ boy sandwich. (A po' boy is a sandwich from Louisiana that is served in a baguette.) I already knew that the crispy and tangy fried green tomato and succulently spicy shrimp and tasty remoulade sauce was a winner and wrapping it up in a fresh baguette with its chewy outside and soft, melt in your mouth inside, could only make things better! I think that I have found my new favourite po' boy; it's too bad it is so late in the season. I will be looking forward to making them again next year!

Turkey and Zucchini Green Chili

Turkey and Zucchini Green Chili

With the weather starting to get cooler I have been thinking about soups and stews a lot more. Even with the cooler weather, the markets still have a lot of late summers produce and I figured that it was the perfect time to enjoy some of those vegetables in a warm and hearty stew. I remembered seeing some tomatillos the week before and I was immediately thinking about a salsa verde and a green chili. A green chili, or a chili verde, is a chili that uses tomatillos and green chilis such as poblano and jalapeno chilies instead of tomatoes and red chilies. I tend to associate turkey with fall and it had been a very long time since I had used any so it was the natural meat for the chili. With the base of the chili done, I packed in more vegetables in the form of some zucchini and corn and I bulked everything up with some white beans. Despite the fact that the salsa verde was already bringing a lot of flavour to the table, I could not resist adding even more with a heaping tablespoon of cumin along with some oregano. This ended up being one really tasty chili that was also nice and tasty and it really hit the spot on a cool day!

Roasted Red Peppers

Roasted Red Peppers

Roasted red peppers have to be one of my favorite foods and right now the farmers market is filled with perfectly field ripened red peppers that are just waiting to be roasted. Roasting the red peppers makes them nice and tender and it intensifies their flavour and sweetness along with imparting them with a touch of smokiness. Although you could easily buy jarred roasted red peppers, they are so easy to make at home and always good! There are several ways of roasting tried peppers and I find the easiest way is to broil them in the oven one large baking sheet at a time. You can easily use this method to roast other peppers like poblanos or even jalapeƱos.

Hot Cheesy Mushroom Dip

Hot Cheesy Mushroom Dip

Mushrooms have to be one of my all time favorite foods which is why when Mushrooms Canada approached me about taking part in an international mushroom tournament, I jumped at the chance to take part! The name of the game is "Mushroom Masters: A Tournament of Taste" and the basic idea behind it is that food bloggers, in association with mushroom organizations, from Canada, the United States and Australia would develop and photograph new mushroom recipes to face off against each other once a week for the month of September, which is mushroom month. The photographs have been appearing on Taste Spotting for the show down for the last few weeks this week it was my turn to represent team Canada with a tasty new mushroom dish.

Fried Green Tomatoes with Shrimp Remoulade

Fried Green Tomatoes with Shrimp Remoulade

Last week a kind reader left a comment on my fried green tomatoes recipe suggesting that I try fried green tomato shrimp remoulade. I am always looking for new ways to enjoy fried green tomatoes and there is no way that you could go wrong topping them off with some shrimp in a tasty remoulade sauce . As luck would have it, I remembered seeing some green tomatoes at the farmers market last week so the fried green tomato shrimp remoulade made it to my meal plan really quickly! :) This recipe is pretty easy and you can even make the remoulade sauce the day before which works out for the best as the flavours get a chance to mingle overnight. While researching this recipe I found out that this dish is often served with the shrimp and remoulade sauce chilled while the fried green tomatoes are piping hot to add a nice contrasting temperature to the dish. I have to say that the tangy fried green tomatoes go really well with the sweet and juicy shrimp in their tasty remoulade sauce! This recipe would work equally well for a light meal of as an appetizer.

Chimichurri Steak Sandwiches with Roasted Corn and Red Pepper Salsa

Chimichurri Steak Sandwiches with Roasted Corn and Red Pepper Salsa

The reason that I was making chimichurri sauce so late in the summer was that I had just one more dish with corn that I just had to get in before it disappeared from the farmers market. A while ago I came across a photo, which I cannot find now, of a sandwich with sliced steak, a green sauce and corn and I immediately thought that it was a grilled steak with chimichurri and corn salsa sandwich. I can take any excuse to pick up a nice piece of steak and barley sear it to medium rare perfection and the thought of combining that tender steak with a flavourful chimichurri sauce and a sweet corn and red pepper salsa all wrapped up into a sandwich was impossible to resist. Luckily I was still able to get some corn at the farmers market the week after I got back from my vacation and I got a chance to make these delightful sandwiches. Although you have to cook a steak, make the chimichurri, make the salsa and then assemble everything into a sandwich, it is definitely worth the effort as these sandwiches are packed with flavour! I tried some of the leftovers with some crumbled feta and the saltiness complimented the sweetness of the salsa particularly well.

Chimichurri Sauce

Chimichurri Sauce

Chimichurri is an Argentinian green sauce made primarily from parsley. In addition to the parsley it commonly contains garlic, vinegar and red pepper flakes. Of course there are many variations on the sauce and it commonly includes other ingredients. I play around with this chimichurri recipe a lot but this is my favorite version so far. Chimichurri is nice and light and fresh and just packed with flavour and it goes really well on grilled meats, especially steak. With all of the fresh herbs, it certainly smacks of summer but I am still in denial so making some now was a great way to pretend that the cooling weather outside was just a figment of my imagination.

Texmex Style Corn Fritters

Texmex Style Corn Fritters

While I was at the farmers market on the weekend I noticed that a few less farmers had corn and there were still a few things that I wanted to do with corn so I picked some up right away. The other week I made some Thai style corn fritters that I really enjoyed and while I was eating them I figured that a Mexican flavoured version would also be amazing. The idea for the recipe was pretty simple with the main flavours coming from some smoky chipotle chili powder along with some freshly toasted and ground cumin. From there I needed to add something green and green onions and cilantro were the perfect fit. Mexican dishes very often contain cheese and at first I was thinking that I would just sprinkle some cheese on top when I served the fritters but then I thought: Why not add the cheese directly to the fritters and let it melt and get all gooey and good while the fritters cook? I then finished the fritters off with hit of lime juice to brighten things up. The Mexican inspired corn fritters were just as good as I imagined and I really like the way that the cheddar cheese melted and fried as the fritters cooked, just like that cheese that spills out the side of a grilled cheese sandwich and browns and gets all mmm mmm good! I served the corn fritters with some salsa and a dab of sour cream.

Balsamic Roasted Tomato Caprese Sandwich

Balsamic Roasted Tomato Caprese Sandwich

As I was enjoying my balsamic roasted Tomato caprese salad a thought crossed my mind; This flavour combination would be great in a sandwich! I am currently hooked on balsamic roasted tomatoes and I could not resist indulging and making them again, this time in sandwich form. :) As good as the salad version was, the sandwich was even better! There is just something amazing about wrapping things in a soft and warm fresh baguette and it really worked with this sandwich. I mean, just look at all of those juices pouring out of that sandwich! And even better, those juices soaked into the baguette infusing it with all of their magical flavours.

Balsamic Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad

Balsamic Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad

Over the past few weeks I have been enjoying a lot of the locally grown field tomatoes. Late summer is the best time to enjoy the perfectly ripe field tomatoes as they are nice and juicy and full of flavour. The hot house tomatoes that you can get year round are nice enough but they simply do not compare to the field tomatoes at this time of year and I have been taking advantage of them. As tasty as the field ripened tomatoes are, I often like to roast them to concentrate their flavour even more. Roasted tomatoes make for some really tasty pasta sauces but this time I was looking for something a little different and I combined them with another of my favourites, the caprese salad. I kept the balsamic roasted tomato caprese salad nice and simple and it did not disappoint! The warm roasted tomatoes were full of flavour and they started to melt the fresh mozzarella making it seem like it was melting in your mouth!

Chicken and Sweet Corn Soup

Chicken and Sweet Corn Soup

While I was on vacation I got the chance to eat at a Chinese restaurant and the chicken sweet corn soup on the menu caught my attention. There were just so many things that I wanted to try that I did not end up ordering the sweet corn soup but I figured that I could make it at home. With the end of corn season within sight it was time to try making a sweet corn soup and this weekend I got the chance to. I went with a very simple version of the soup with garlic, ginger, green onions and soy sauce for flavour in addition to the corn and chicken and I could not resist adding a bit of heat in the form of a birds eye chili. One thing that I really like about many Chinese soups is the egg drop which adds a really amazing texture to the soup and makes it a bit more filling. I also added a touch of corn flour to thicken the soup up a bit. (If you prefer an even thicker soup, feel free to add more corn flour.) One thing that I find is quintessential about Asian cuisine is that aroma of toasted sesame oil so I added a few drops to the soup to finish it off. The sweetness of the corn plays really well with the salty soy sauce seasoning in this soup and it was a great way to enjoy some of the last of the fresh locally grown corn!

Zucchini Pistou Pasta

Zucchini Pistou

With the vacation it has been almost three weeks since I last visited the local farmers market and I am really starting to miss it! No matter, the grocery stores are still full of local produce including lots of cheap zucchini and I knew just what I could use some for. This zucchini pistou recipe, originally from from Cooking Light, has been making its way around the food blogging sphere and it seemed a really nice way to enjoy some fresh zucchini. A pistou is similar to a pesto and since pestos can be made from many different ingredients, why not a zucchini pistou? I particularly like the way that this recipe includes zucchini in two different forms, both pureed in the pistou and sliced in the pasta for lots of zucchini goodness. For the pasta I went with penne noodles as whenever I make a zucchini pasta I like to cut the zucchini in roughly the same shape and size of the penne noodles. This zucchini pistou is really easy to make and a perfect way to use up some of your remaining zucchini!

Back in the Kitchen

Octopus with Chorizo Chickpeas

After a week long whirlwind adventure in Seattle and Vancouver I am back in my closet sized kitchen!

It all started with the International Food Bloggers Conference (IFBC) in Seattle which was filled with amazing people and tasty food. I was absolutely thrilled to have the chance to meet some food bloggers in person that I had previously only known online. I also had the opportunity to meet many new friends and the conversations were never dull. The weekend was filled with seminars, some of which I felt did not really apply to me, but I learned a bit and I look forward to trying to improve Closet Cooking with what I have learned. In between all of the seminars was of course a ton of food and drink. Out of all of the great food, I have to say that the food truck lunch was my favorite. There are no food trucks here in Toronto and I had really been looking forward to trying out some taco truck tacos and Seattle's taco trucks did not disappointed! You can see some of my photos from the IFBC here: