Mojito Grilled Fish Tacos with Strawberry Salsa

Mojito Grilled Fish Tacos with Strawberry Salsa

After enjoying snacking on the strawberry and avocado salsa I knew that I wanted to try using it in something and of course tacos were on my mind. I figured that white fish tacos would be perfect but I did not think that my staple fish tacos, the chipotle lime fish tacos were quite the right fit. My next choice was some cilantro lime fish tacos but I wanted to try something a little different. After contemplating for a while and my mind wandered and I found myself thinking about how good a nice cool and refreshing strawberry mojito would be. With that thought, inspiration struck and mojito fish tacos it was!

Strawberry and Avocado Salsa

Strawberry and Avocado Salsa

The local strawberries are here and so far I have been enjoying them by the bowlful whether with a bit of good balsamic vinegar or on vanilla yogurt or just themselves. As I was contemplating what I wanted to do with strawberries this year I noticed that I kept jumping to ideas for sweet dishes and when I realized that I almost immediately took it as a challenge to use strawberries in a savoury dish. The challenge did not last too long however as I quickly thought that fruit often works well in salsas and I liked the sound of a savoury strawberry salsa. With the strawberries being so perfectly ripe, I of course wanted a fresh salsa and I kept things nice and simple. I figured that cool and creamy avocado would be a great pair with the strawberries and I finished things off with some staple salsa ingredients including jalapeno pepper, red onion, lime juice and fresh chopped cilantro. The savoury strawberry salsa turned out really well and in addition to just eating it by the spoonful, I am thinking that it would be perfect with fish tacos or with cinnamon tortillas chips.

Bulgogi Cheesesteak Sandwich

Bulgogi Cheesesteak Sandwich

Not too long ago I tried an experiment by using daeji bulgogi, a Korean spicy BBQ pork in a Vietnamese style banh mi sandwich that I particularly enjoyed. While I was contemplating banh mi recipe I could not help but think about other sandwiches that Korean bulgogi would be good in and one thought led to another and before I knew it I was thinking about a bulgogi cheesesteak sandwich! The basic idea was to use beef bulgogi in a Philly cheesesteak style sandwich with sauted onions, peppers and melted cheese. This recipe is pretty simple, you just make the bulgogi, saute some onions and peppers, assemble the sandwich, melt the cheese and you are good to go! I have to say that the complex flavours of the bulgogi that balances sweet and salty worked very well in a cheesesteak sandwich with sauteed peppers and onions, all covered in melted cheese! If you prefer your sandwich to be on the spicier side a tablespoon of gochujang sauce would be the perfect way to add some heat!

Warm Mushroom, Roasted Asparagus and Wild Rice Salad with Feta

Warm Mushroom and Wild Rice Salad with Roasted Asparagus and Feta

New things are quickly starting to show up at the farmers market these days which I took as a subtle reminder that I should get my asparagus fix on sooner rather than later! With that in mind I realized that it was time to finish the recipe that had been on my mind for the last few weeks for a warm asparagus and mushroom salad. I wanted to combine two of my favorite foods, asparagus and mushrooms in salad that was served warm over salad greens. I often like to include whole grains in my salads and I was pretty determined to use wild rice but I was unsure as to where to go from there. My uncertainty was solved the other day when I used the dill in the cod wrapped in crispy potatoes with a dill and caper sauce which reminded me of how much I enjoy the mushroom and dill flavour combo and everything else kind of fell into place. I finished the salad off with a balsamic vinaigrette and some crumbled feta, though I had also been contemplating using either goat cheese or blue cheese. For method of cooking I went with my favourites and roasted the asparagus to bring out its full flavour and sauteed the mushrooms until they started to caramelize. In the end, I was quite pleased with the results! The flavours all went wonderfully together and I particularly liked the way the warm asparagus and mushrooms worked with your more ordinary cool salad greens.

Cod Wrapped in Crispy Potatoes with a Dill and Caper Sauce

Cod Wrapped in Crispy Potatoes

With me wanting to get more fish in my diet I have been keeping an eye out for new dishes and not too long ago I came across this recipe for cod wrapped in crispy potatoes on Kalofagus which caught my eye. I liked the idea of fish wrapped in crispy potatoes, I mean you really cannot go wrong with crispy fried potatoes! In fact this dish immediately made me think about fish n chips where instead of being fish in a crispy deep fried batter with a side of fries you roll them into one to get the best of both worlds and it has the added bonus of being a bit healthier as well!

I very often like to use capers and lemon with fish and this dish has both covered by placing a lemony caper sauce in between the fish and the potato wrapping. Another flavour that I often like like to include with the capers and lemon is dill so I tweaked the recipe a bit by using a bunch of dill in the sauce.

Wrapping the fish in the layer of potatoes can by a little tricky but once you get the hang of it, it is pretty easy. First you need to slice the potatoes very thinly and a mandolin comes in really handy here. Next you need to cook the potatoes in oil until they soften up enough that you can bend them to wrap them around the fish. When you are ready to wrap the fish in the potatoes you want to lay the potatoes out on your working surface in such a way that they overlap each a bit on the sides and interlace on the ends.

Going through the trouble of wrapping the fish in the potato slices was definitely worth it as the final product is fantastic! The potato wrapping does get nice and crispy and when you bite through it you get hit by the amazingly fresh and tasty dill and caper sauce only then to finally hit soft and juicy inner fish layer. Since the local asparagus is still readily available I served the cod wrapped in crispy potatoes on a bed of asparagus and I fried up a few lemon slices as well. Feel free to serve some of the extra dill and caper sauce on the side to smother the asparagus in!

Grilled Lemongrass Chicken

Grilled Lemongrass Chicken

Summer is here and that means that it is time to get some more grilling on! Up first, I thought that I would start with a light dish in the form of some Vietnamese style grilled lemongrass chicken. The chicken is marinated in a marinade that focuses on some amazingly fragrant lemongrass which as its name suggests has the aroma of lemons. The marinade builds up it flavour with shallots, garlic and ginger and then adds aspects of sweet, salty and spicy in the form of sugar, fish sauce and chilies. After being coated in the marinade the chicken is then left to chill out in the fridge to absorb all of the flavours of the marinade. If you are short on time you can cut the marinade time down but the longer the chicken has to marinate the better and ideally this should be done the night before.

Vietnamese Dipping Sauce (Nuoc Cham)

Vietnamese Dipping Sauce (Nuoc Cham)

One important element of Vietnamese cuisine is nuoc cham or a Vietnamese dipping sauce. Nuoc cham is a fish sauce based dipping sauce that deftly balances sweet, salty and sour aspects and it is really easy to make at home. The basic recipe includes fish sauce, water, sugar and lime juice and chilies and garlic are often added as well. The few minutes that it take to make your own nuoc cham are definitely worth is and when you make your own, you can make it with your prefect balance of sweet, salty, sour and spicy.

Nuoc cham is served with many different dishes including summer rolls .

Rhubarb Fool with Gingersnap Crumbs

Rhubarb Fool with Gingersnap Crumbs

After making the rhubarb syrup I had a bunch of rhubarb solids leftover and although they were a little mashed from sieving the syrup from them they were darn tasty and there was no way that I was just going to discard them. In fact they were pretty much a rhubarb compote and I was all set to enjoy them warm over some melting vanilla ice cream until I came across the idea of a rhubarb fool with gingersnap crumbs on Cookin' Canuck and I changed my plans immediately. I am no stranger to rhubarb fools as I have been experimenting with them for a while now but I had not thought to add gingersnap crumbs and now that I had the idea in my head I just had to try it. A fool is a pretty simple concept being cooked fruit with whipped cream and in this case crumbled gingersnap cookies were added. I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the way the crunchy gingery crumbs worked with the sweet and tart rhubarb and the pillowy soft whipped cream and trying to find more them was almost like digging for treasure!

Grilled Asparagus and Halloumi Salad

Grilled Asparagus and Halloumi Salad

I first came across the asparagus and halloumi cheese combo a few years ago in this grilled asparagus, zucchini and halloumi salad and I have been hooked ever since! Halloumi is a Greek or Turkish cheese that has a high melting point which means that it can easily be fried or grilled. One of my favourite ways to enjoy halloumi in is in a dish called saganaki where the fried cheese is served with a splash of lemon that goes perfectly with the salty cheese. I find that juicy asparagus pairs well with halloumi and it is a combination that I use frequently.

I recently came across a new recipe for grilled asparagus and halloumi on Jungle Frog and I was immediately taken by it. I really liked the simplicity which allows you to focus on the asparagus and the halloumi and a bright lemon dressing goes perfectly with it. This dish could easily be served as an appetizer, a salad or even as a light meal and it is super easy to make. Since I had some lemons out anyways, I sliced and grilled one up to serve with the asparagus and halloumi.

Lemon Honey Dijon Vinaigrette

Honey Dijon Vinaigrette

Although store bought dressings can be convenient making your own is surprisingly easy! I find that I enjoy homemade dressings more and I like knowing exactly what goes into them. If you are like me and your tastes and desires change like the wind, homemade dressings are also nice as you can make as much or as little as you want. If you always make small batches, they stay fresh and tomorrow you can switch to whatever dressing you are craving then without cluttering you fridge with half a dozen open bottles of dressing. Or, if you prefer less work then you can make large batches as they store well in a jar in the fridge.

For my next recipe, I needed a lemon inspired dressing and I was immediately thinking about a vinaigrette with freshly squeezed lemon juice as the base. I like my vinaigrettes to be a bit on the tarter side so I use a one to one ratio of oil and vinegar, or in this case lemon juice. Mustard works as an emulsifier allowing the oil and vinegar to bond so it is a common ingredient in dressings and in this dressing I often like to use a mixture of dijon and grainy mustard to add a bit of texture. Next up is some locally sourced honey to tame the mustard and to balance out the tartness of the lemon juice and some salt and pepper for seasoning.

Rhubarb Soda

Rhubarb Soda

Have you ever wanted to try making your own flavours of pop or soda? Armed with a fruity simple syrup and some club soda you can mix one up in no time! That was exactly my plan for the rhubarb syrup and I was pulling it out of the fridge again just as soon as it had fully chilled. I have to say, as I sit here enjoying a glass of cool and refreshing rhubarb soda, that the rhubarb flavour along the sweetness and tartness, makes an amazing soda and what a wonderful colour! Now I am thinking that a rhubarb mojito with the addition of lime and rum might be up next.

Rhubarb Syrup

Rhubarb Syrup

Rhubarb has to be one of my favourite spring treats and while I am waiting for the local strawberries to come I tend to enjoy it in the form of a rhubarb compote . Rhubarb compote is so easy to make and it is perfect for a quick dessert when served warm over a scoop of vanilla ice cream. This year I thought that I would change things up a bit and try making a rhubarb syrup. Since a simple syrup is made by simmering water and sugar and a rhubarb compote is made by simmering sugar and rhubarb, I figured that I could get the best of both worlds by adding some extra water to the rhubarb compote recipe. This way, once the brief simmering is done you can strain the solids and have both rhubarb compote and rhubarb syrup! At this point the rhubarb syrup is going to be pretty liquid-y and perfect for using in drinks but if you wanted it a bit thicker you could easily return the syrup to the sauce pan and simmer it to reduce and thicken.

Ham, Egg and Gruyere Crepes with Maple Syrup

Ham, Egg and Gruyere Crepes with Maple Syrup

The other day I was perusing the menu of Liberty Belle Bistro , a restaurant near where I work and I noticed their Crepe Quebecois which immediately caught my attention. The crepes were described as containing ham, egg and gruyere and the crepe was finished off with maple syrup. I really liked the sound of the sweet and savoury combination of the crepes with the maple syrup and I just had to try making some at home!

Every time that I have made crepes in the past I fully cooked the crepes and then filled them later but these crepes contained an egg filling and cheese which ideally should be melted so I had to change my technique a little. For these crepes I cooked the batter until it started to set and then I added the egg, swirled it around so that it evenly coated the crepe, then I added the grated gruyere cheese and let it melt as the eggs set. Once the egg looked like it was almost set I added the ham and let it warm up a bit before removing the crepe from the pan to fold it up and plate it. The new crepe cooking technique worked out perfectly and I was able to get a cooked egg filling and melted cheese in the crepe without burning the crepe itself.

It has been a long time since I last made bacon and added maple syrup to the pan while it was frying but it is an absolutely amazing combination of sweet and savoury and as I took the first bite of these ham, egg and gruyere crepes topped with maple syrup I was immediately reminded of it. The salty ham, with the melted cheese for was delightful all wrapped up in a light and fluffy crepe and topped with maple syrup and I practically inhaled mine! I could not resist spreading a touch of dijon mustard onto the ham and the small bite that it added was particularly nice! Theses crepes certainly made for a fantastic weekend breakfast!

Asparagus, Zucchini and Chickpea Green Curry

Asparagus, Zucchini and Chickpea Green Curry

Next up for my freshly homemade Thai green curry paste is this seasonal curry with asparagus and zucchini. One of the things that I like so much about Thai curries is that they are so easy tom make. You start by sautéing the curry paste to bring out its flavours then you add the coconut milk, the ingredients of choice, fish sauce, lime juice and a bit of sugar to balance things out, and then simmer for a few minutes. Nice and quick and easy! Despite being so easy, these curries are always full of flavour and when using homemade curry pastes they are nice and bright and fresh. For this curry I wanted the in season local asparagus and zucchini and because I wanted to keep things on the lighter side I filled out the curry with chickpeas though chicken or tofu would also work well. I normally serve curries like this over jasmine rice but this time I changed things up and went with quinoa which turned out to be a great alternative!

Cilantro and Lime Refried Beans

Cilantro and Lime Refried Beans

I wanted to include some beans in the asparagus huevos rancheros recipe that I was cooking up and since I wanted to keep the dish to green and white colours to go with the asparagus it had to be white beans. Just adding plain old white beans was, well, too plain and simply using white beans in refried beans did not seem right either. After some contemplation I decided to start with the basic refried beans recipe and make it greener. The first thing to go was the red chili pepper powder which I replaced with some green jalapeno peppers for the source of heat. While I was thinking about the recipe I kept coming back the the cilantro and lime flavour combination that I enjoy some much in my cilantro and lime rice and although I really was not sure about how the cilantro and lime would work with beans, I decided to go with it.

In the end I had nothing to worry about! The cilantro and lime duo worked fantastically well in the white 'refried' beans! Originally I had gone light on the cilantro and lime and after one spoonful I doubled up and used the whole lime and more cilantro. The combination of creamy beans with the bright and fresh lime and cilantro is addictively amazing! I had to restrain myself from polishing off the beans before they even made it to the asparagus huevos rancheros . I can definitely seen the cilantro and lime refried beans going in and with a lot of different dishes and I am looking forward to making them again!

Asparagus Huevos Rancheros

Asparagus Huevos Rancheros

A couple of weeks ago when the local asparagus season had just begun I had asparagus on my mind almost all the time. As fate would have it, one day I was going through some of my older posts when I came across one of my favourite breakfasts, huevos rancheros , and inspiration struck! How about a seasonal take on huevos rancheros with asparagus?

Huevos rancheros normally consist of lightly fried tortillas topped with a spicy tomato based sauce and fried eggs but with the asparagus as the inspiration I was thinking about something more on the green side of things. With green as the concept, I knew that I would be using a tomatillo salsa verde in place of the tomato based chili sauce. I often serve huevos rancheros with a side of refried beans or just plain beans but I figured that since the asparagus was going to be thicker than the salsa verde that it would be nice to flatten things out a bit by surrounding the asparagus with beans right in the huevos rancheros. At first I was just going to use plain white beans but I thought that they were just a little too plain and simply using white beans in refried beans didn't seem green enough. After thinking about it for a bit I came up with the idea of combining the recipes for refried beans and cilantro lime rice to make cilantro lime refried beans. And with that, the fried eggs, slices of avocado, crumbled queso freso and some cilantro, my asparagus huevos rancheros recipe was done.

I certainly have been enjoying these asparagus huevos rancheros for breakfasts this week! What an amazing combination of flavours and textures from the slightly crisp tortillas to the creamy beans and avocado to the juicy asparagus and lets not forget that magnificent runny egg yolk! I particulary like all of the bright spring like flavours coming from the tomatillo salsa verde, the limes, cilantro and especially the asparagus. What a great way to enjoy spring and some asparagus for breakfast!

Fiddlehead and Gruyere Tart

Fiddlehead Tart

Another ingredient that is available during spring is the fiddlehead fern and the last few years I have been enjoying experimenting with them. Fiddlehead ferns are young ferns that are picked before the frond has opened. They are commonly used as a vegetable and their flavour can be compared to that of asparagus. This year I knew exactly what I wanted to do with the fiddleheads, a savoury fiddlehead tart! For the base of the tart I used sheets of phyllo dough and I topped them with some sauted leeks with a bit of garlic and then I covered everything with a layer of gruyere cheese followed by the fiddlehead ferns themselves. I like using phyllo pastry for tarts like this as it bakes up nice and light and flakey and golden brown which is perfect for a light spring meal.

Tilapia Baked in Thai Green Curry

Tilapia Baked in Thai Green Curry

Now that I had my Thai green curry paste it was time to get down to business and make some curry! I wanted something on the lighter side and I immediately thought about fish which I have been enjoying a lot of lately. The basic idea was to simply bake some fish in Thai green curried coconut milk and to serve it over jasmine rice. Since asparagus is in season it seemed only natural to add some to the dish as well!

Thai Green Curry Paste

Thai Green Curry Paste

I am a huge fan of curries in all forms and in particular, I am quite fond of Thai curries. It had been a long time since I last had a Thai curry and I had been craving some for the last few days. Unfortunately I was fresh out of curry paste which meant that it was time to make some more. (I have been making my own Thai curry pastes ever since I discovered just how easy it is to make at home and just how much better a homemade curry paste it!) There are many different kinds of Thai curry pastes and given that it is Spring I figured that green curry paste would be fitting. This green curry paste is just packed with fresh ingredients and it is literally as easy to make as pureeing all of the ingredients in a food processor.

Tip: Thai curry pastes freeze well so I like to divide the curry paste into several 2 tablespoon portions and freeze them and that way whenever I fell like a Thai curry I can just pull one out of the freezer and be ready to go.

Black and Blue Steak Salad with Asparagus and Red Peppers

Black and Blue Steak Salad with Asparagus and Red Peppers

After enjoying the black and blue steak sandwich so much I just had to try it in salad form as the idea of a black and blue steak salad was what inspired the sandwich in the first place. A sweet and tart balsamic vinegar is the perfect foil for the creamy and tangy blue cheese so I knew that the base of my salad was going to be salad greens in a balsamic vinaigrette but I could not stop there as things seemed a little bit too boring. While I was thinking about it, my mind wandered to wondering what I was going to do with the asparagus that I had picked up at the market and I had my answer; add it to the salad. Since I was going to be grilling the steak I figured, why dirty any other dishes when grilled asparagus is so good? I often like to pair red peppers with asparagus and some grilled red peppers were bound to work wonders in the salad. The black and blue steak salad turned out amazingly well! The moist, tender an juicy steak was a delight and the blue cheese, balsamic vinaigrette, asparagus and red peppers played really well together almost like dancing in your mouth. Salads with a bit of grilled meat like this steak salad are ideal light meals for summer and it is always nice when you can include some seasonal local ingredients like the asparagus.

Chipotle Lime Fish Tacos

Chipotle Lime Fish Tacos

I was craving some Mexican food and keeping to my desire to try to get more fish in my diet, I decided that fish tacos would be the perfect fix! Although battered and fried, crispy fish tacos are always good, I often like to keep things on the healthier side, so grilling the fish is the perfect alternative. White fish is often flaky when cooked which can make it difficult to grill but I find that tilapia generally holds up well so it is my fish of choice for grilled fish tacos.