Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Prawn Sandwich

Dear British Soccer Fans,
I don't know why I am supposed to feel dissed when you call me a "prawn sandwich eater." I get that it basically means I am hoity toity, but really, who wouldn't want to sit in the nicer seats at the game, and more importantly, who wouldn't want to eat prawn sandwiches. Prawns are delicious. I think I will make myself a prawn sandwich right now.
Sincerely CourtJ

I seriously eat tons of prawn sandwiches. I always keep frozen uncooked prawns in the freezer because they take seconds to defrost, and so I can make myself a meal that feels fancy - because it has seafood in it - without having to do advance planning. For me a prawn sandwich is made up quite a lot like a tuna sandwich. I make up a "salad" with the prawns, some finely diced onion, peppers and mayo, and then layer the salad with other fixings to make an open faced sandwich that I warm up. Today's had goat cheese, finely sliced tomato and avocado. It's nice that something so easy to make can feel like such a treat!


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Jackalope Ranch - Palm Springs

I'm a bit late with this one, especially since Palm Springs snowbird season is coming to an end, but I was looking through my food pictures and the salmon made my mouth water, so here it is. I love going down to Palm Springs. My husband calls it the big easy because my parents take such good care of us when we stay down there with them (they also babysit so we get blissful time alone!). The thing about the Big Easy is that they sure love their happy hours. Stereotypical? Yes. True though, and oh so good.

Jackalope Ranch is right by my parent's place, and it is owned by the same people as Babes (down at "the River" for those of you who frequent Palm Desert). Technically I think it is in Indio, but Palm Springs and all the other desert cities basically seem like one spread out place. We go to Jackalope's for happy hour at least once every time we are in town. The food costs between $4 and $8 and it goes from 3 pm to 6 pm. Perfect for an early dinner, and a lot of the "appetizers" offered are easily dinner sized seeing as many come with fries.

The corn and shrimp chowder and the pulled pork sandwich are the favorites in our family, but everything we have had there has been good for the money. Here are some lovely pictures showing a few menu selections from various visits. On an overcast day like today I sure miss sitting on their gorgeous patio enjoying snacks and drinks.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Seafood BBQ

Sum-sum-summertime is here! Well, not really, but that's what it felt like today, and a perfect sunny day on a weekend is a magical thing. I took the little one for a walk, and other family members spent the day doing yard work. I had flipped through one of our many Jamie Oliver cook books the other day and decided that a nice thing to do this evening would be to do a big seafood cook-up. Sadly, the fire ban that is on here prevented me from doing it on the fire pit, but the BBQ worked out pretty well.

I have one of those BBQs with a side burner, so on that I fryed up some potatoes in duck fat. It was nice to have something a bit heavier to go with the seafood since it is pretty light. I also served it with pita and tzaziki. Cooking up all this seafood was pretty much guess work. I did some red snapper, live muscles, shrimp and some pre-cooked crab. I heated up the BBQ to high, and put the snapper in a BBQ "basket" so that I didn't have to worry about it flaking through the grates. Next I did the muscles in batches in BBQ baskets as well, and right at the end I threw the shrimp on and the crab legs to warm.

To dress it all, I threw on some knobs of butter with lime zest and juice, a finely chopped chili and some garlic.


Friday, April 16, 2010


I found this in one of my Japanese cookbooks when I was looking for something quick that didn't require leaving the house for any ingredients. I always have bacon on hand (frozen in sets of 4 strips), and found some chopped spinach in my freezer from last summer's harvest. Soba is high in essential amino acids and antioxidents, as well as being one of my favourite kind of noodles. It has a nice bite to it and is takes less than half the time to cook that regular pasta takes. This was a little bit western and a little eastern, but mostly just delicious.

Soba with Bacon & Spinach (for 1):
100g soba noodles
2 tbsp olive oil
3 pieces bacon, cut in 1/2 cm strips
1/2 clove garlic, crushed
50g chopped spinach
2 tbsp soy sauce
salt & pepper

In a fry pan with olive oil, cook the bacon until crispy. Add the garlic and cook another couple of minutes before adding the spinach. Flavour with soy sauce, salt & pepper. While you are doing this cook the soba noodles in boiling water for 4 minutes, then drain and toss with the spinach/bacon mixture.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Herb Roast

A couple of days ago it snowed here. We were all primed up for spring, and then winter returned. There is nothing that I like better on a cold day than staying in and popping a roast in the oven. Seeing as last year I froze all of my remaining herbs at the end of the gardening season, all I had to do was pull them out of the freezer and wiz them through my mini food processor with some olive oil, salt and pepper and smear it all on. For this one I used chives, rosemary, thyme and parsley. Smear the roast with the herb paste, and pop it in a roasting pan on top of some chopped onion, carrots and celery. I cook it uncovered at 450 F for the first half hour to brown it up, and then cover it and finish it at 350 F (a total cook time of 1 hour per kilo). The juices left at the end make an amazing pan gravy!


Friday, April 9, 2010

Sweet & Spicy Roast Kabocha

This makes a yummy alternative to roast potatoes or sweet potatoes, with the added benefit that it takes less time to cook and you can eat the peel. Most squash is a pain to peel, and one of the reasons I love kabocha is not having to deal with that. It's also high in beta carotene and iron. Of course, since I've added a bunch of sugar to it I'm not sure how healthy the final product is.

Sweet & Spicy Kabocha Squash:
1 kabocha, deseeded and sliced
grapeseed oil, or other flavourless oil
4 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp ground coriander
1/2 tbsp ground cumin
1/2 tbsp szechuan pepper
sprinkle of soy sauce or salt

Preheat oven to 375F/190C and line a baking tray with a silicone sheet or parchment paper. In a bowl drizzle just enough oil to lightly coat the squash slices (or use spray oil). Put the sugar, coriander, cumin, and pepper in a plastic bag and shake to mix. Drop the kabocha slices into the bag a handful at a time and shake to coat in the mixture. Lay the slices on the baking tray and sprinkle a little soy sauce or salt on top. Bake for 15 minutes, then flip the slices over and bake another 10 minutes.


Sunday, April 4, 2010


Syllabub is a seriously easy dessert that only requires 3 ingredients and about 10 minutes of your time. It also seems great for parties or an after dinner treat as, being very rich, it lends itself well to small portions. It also is extremely adaptable - you could use any liqueur to flavour this. This time I went slightly asian to match my dinner, but I think next time I'll try Cointreau and orange peel, or maybe Chambord and raspberries, or maybe...

Matcha Syllabub (serves 4):
1/3 Zen Green Tea Liqueur
2 tbsp sugar
1 cup/250 ml heavy cream
matcha powder (optional)

Pour the green tea liqueur into a bowl with the sugar and whisk to dissolve. Next, whisk in the heavy cream and whip until it has thickened but is still soft and billowy. I sprinkled matcha powder on top for an extra punch of green tea flavour.


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Asian Inspired Turkey Salad

I'm back! Well, really I was always here, just not posting because I thought staying home with a baby would leave me tons of time to do a correspondence course through the University. All you mom's out there are probably laughing hysterically and wiping the tears from your eyes at the thought. I know, I know, that was a ridiculous move on my part. Anyhow, I now have a huge back log of photos to edit and write up for posting. This is something I made after Christmas with some of the left over turkey I was given (new moms are given tons of free food). I saw Jamie Oliver make it on the Food Network, and decided it looked good. It was actually pretty great!

Asian Inspired Turkey Salad:

• 2 large handfuls of brown turkey meat
• 1 large handful of cashew nuts
• 1 handful of dried cranberries
• 2 teaspoons ground five-spice
• a bunch of fresh mint, leaves picked (I left this out)
• a bunch of fresh coriander, leaves picked (I used parsley instead, since that is what I had)
• 4 large handfuls of mixed salad leaves such as chicory, rocket, spinach, watercress (a mixture)
• 1 tablespoon runny honey
• 1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped (I used chilli powder)

for the dressing
• juice of 1 clementine
• juice of 1 lime
• 1 pomegranate, halved
• ½ red onion, peeled and coarsely grated
• extra virgin olive oil
• 1 tablespoon soy sauce
• 1 teaspoon sesame oil
• a thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely grated

Shred the brown turkey meat into thin strips using your fingers and put it into a dry pan on a medium heat. Add the cashew nuts, dried cranberries and five-spice. Give it all a good stir then let it toast away while you get on with your salad. Give the pan a shake every now and then to make sure nothing catches.

Add the mint and most of your coriander leaves to a bowl with your mixed salad leaves. Make your dressing in a separate bowl by mixing the juice from your clementine and lime. Squeeze the juice from one of your pomegranate halves through your hands to catch any seeds then discard them. Stir in your grated onion. I tend to use 3 parts oil to 1 part acid when I’m making dressings, so look at what you’ve got in the bowl so far then pour in 3 times as much extra virgin olive oil. Add the soy sauce and sesame oil.

Squeeze in all the juice from your grated ginger then throw away the pulp.Give this lovely dressing a really good stir, and have a taste. If you want more salt, add a splash more soy. If you want more acid, add another squeeze of lime juice. Drizzle over enough dressing to coat the salad leaves then use your hands to toss and dress them.

Add the honey to the pan with the turkey meat and stir through until coated. Turn the heat up to full whack for the last few seconds to really crisp up the meat mixture. At this point, make sure your guests are all at the table and ready to eat so you can serve the salad as soon as the hot meat hits the salad leaves. Toss half of your pan-fried ingredients through the salad leaves and transfer to a serving platter.

Spoon the remaining nuts, cranberries and crispy meat over the top of the salad and add another drizzle of dressing. Hold the remaining pomegranate half over the salad and knock it on the back with a spoon so the seeds pop onto the salad. Garnish with a nice sprinkling of fresh red chilli, any remaining coriander leaves and serve right away.