Mango salsa.

Who here likes salsa? Who gets there salsa from the store because you’re to lazy to make it?  Me, I love salsa and sometimes yes I’m to lazy to make my own.  It normally happens when all I want are chips…and by chips I mean nachos and it’s also movie night.  However with that being said, sometimes I like making my own salsa and I’m not feeling lazy…it’s normally a pretty exotic salsa though, not like a normal tomato based one.  Which is where this post comes in, get ready mango salsa!  You can use this salsa for almost anything, such as: Tacos, chips, and on top of proteins like fish.  I personally used cod this time, which I baked with chili flakes.
This recipe is very easy, straight forward and doesn’t take very long to do.

Prep time: 10 minutes  Wait time: 30 minutes (depending)  Servings: 6

Equipment:
Small bowl.
Spoon.
measuring spoon/cup.
Knife.
Cutting board.

Ingredients:
1 mango
1/2 small red onion/or 1 shallot
1/4  red bell pepper
1/4 orange bell pepper (you could use any colour bell pepper you want)
3 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 lime-juiced
1tsp sugar/or honey (I used raw, and you could add more to suite your tastes)
salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Dice the onion into small pieces.  Combine white wine vinegar, lime, and sugar together and place diced onion into liquid.  Set aside till the remaining ingredients are finished.  (This will make the onion have less of a sharp taste)
  2. Peel mango and cut into small pieces, cut the bell peppers into similar size pieces and put them aside.
  3. Peel garlic and finely mince.  There is the option to roast the garlic before mincing, this could give a sweeter taste.  To roast the garlic toss the peeled whole cloves in olive oil, wrap them in foil and place in oven at 250F.  This should take about 20 minutes or until they are golden (keep an eye on them, garlic burns quickly).  Let them cool before adding them to the salsa.
  4. Combine all the ingredients(including the onion liquid mixture) together and season will salt and pepper till it suites your taste.
  5. refrigerate till ready to use, and enjoy!10603636_10153361955348404_253565579615985268_n
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Sushi roll Sunday.

Who doesn’t like sushi?  There’s a type of roll for everyone!  Everything from veggie rolls, to tempura rolls, to rolls with raw or cooked fish and even meat & poultry rolls.  It all depends on personal preference.  I love all of them; I have defiantly been in the mood for sushi and put anything I wanted into some nori.  That’s what cooking is all about right?  Today I decided to make sushi rolls for everyone.  I made so many of them!!  I even showed a friend how to make sushi, he calls it the candy of the sea gods.
The day started just like you would assume, shopping at the grocery store for the ingredients.  However I’m so forgetful I forgot the most important part…the sticky rice.  So we stopped at another grocery store on the way back to my place.  We may have look a little crazy.
I was also really craving kimchi that day, just like any other day…So I combined kimchi with my spicy salmon!  It was delicious and satisfying.

I can’t tell you everything about sushi but I can tell you what I know.   I’m no expert on every type and every way to prepare it.  I’ll try my best to be as informative as possible.

So if you didn’t know I’m moving across the country in the next few weeks.  All my posts may or may not be delayed because I have a lot to do, and people to see before I leave! I’ll still get posts out as much as I can though!

Yields: 2-4 rolls    Cook time: 20-30 minutes    Over all time: 1.5 hours

Equipment:
Small to medium sized-pot with cover.
Measuring cups.
Wooden spoon.
Small and medium-sized bowls.
Baking sheet.
Cutting board.
Knife.
Sushi roll mat.
Plastic wrap (optional).

Ingredients: (The roll part)
1-2 cups calrose rice/sushi rice (some stores call it by different names).
2-4 cups water.  (Ratio is 1 part rice 2 parts water)
1 tsp salt.
1 tbsp butter.
Kombu (optional)

Nori (seaweed paper).
Wasabi (optional).
Soy sauce (optional).
Sesame seeds (optional).
What ever you want inside!! I used: Avocado, orange pepper, English cucumber, salmon, imitation crab…and kimchi for one.

Ingredient:(rice vinegar seasoning)
4 tbsp rice vinegar.
2 tbsp sugar.
1 tsp salt.

Ingredients:(spicy mayo)
4 tbsp mayo.
1 tbsp sriracha hot sauce (more or less if you desire).
A small splash of sesame oil.

Method:

  1. Measure out rice and wash with cold water till the water becomes translucent.  By doing this you get rid of the extra toxins and starch.
  2. Add water, salt, butter and kombu to the rice and place on stove.  Bring to a boil, quickly turn down to a very low heat and cover.  Let cook for about 20 minutes or until rice is cooked.  Try not to stir the rice as it’s cooking.
  3. While rice is cooking start cutting your vegetables, meat or fish. Prepping everything while the rice is cooking saves time! If marinating your fish now would be the time to do it!! (Or marinate over night for better flavour)
  4. Combine your rice vinegar, sugar and salt in a small bowl.  Set aside.
  5. Once rice is done, keep the cover on and set in a cool area. Let stand for about 5 minutes to release the bottom.  Remove kombu.
  6. Using your wooden spoon gently pour rice seasoning over cooked rice, cutting through NOT stirring.
  7. Pour rice onto a baking sheet and spread.  This will help cool your rice down faster. I tend to put mine in the fridge because I’m impatient.  However using a hand fan would be the traditional way.
  8. Fill a medium bowl with water, this will be used to wet your hands.  You will constantly need to keep them wet, it will help keep the sticky rice from sticking to you and not the nori.
  9. This is where you use your sushi mat.  Placing the nori sheet shiny side up with the lines going vertical, each sheet will need about 1/4 cup of rice. Wet your hand and gently spread the rice across leaving and inch at the top for an easy seal.  Make sure the rice is even.
  10. Now fill!  In a straight line pile your ingredients one on top of the other, near the bottom.
  11. Now roll.  take the bottom of the roll and gently fold it over your ingredients, tucking it under everything. Continue to roll gently but tightly till you are only left with the 1 inch empty part.  Wet the end of the nori and finish rolling.  You may need to go over the seal with a small amount of water just to give it a better seal!
  12. If you want to make “inside out” sushi simply cut 1/4 off of your nori sheet.  Wet hands and completely fill your sheet with rice.  Place some plastic wrap on top and gently smooth it out.  Flip over!  You then begin to pile your ingredients the same way, except on the seaweed side, not the rice side. You will not need your sushi mat for this because the plastic wrap is helpful for this.  Roll the same way as stated above.  Once you get to the sealing part continue to roll all the way; The rice seals it off so no water is needed!  Once rolled smooth and even it out, unwrap and roll in sesame seeds if you like.
  13. Using a sharp, wet knife begin to cut into about 8 pieces.  Wet your knife every time you feel the rice is starting to become to sticky.
  14. For spicy mayo just combine mayo, sriracha, and sesame oil.  Adjust to your liking.
  15. ENJOY!!

Thanks to my friend who runs The Smiling Fool blog, he was a big help and learned a lot!  Check him out when you get a chance.

Simple, white sandwich buns.

First I’d like to tell everyone that my brother and I have been watching, and talking about 90’s and early 2000’s cartoons lately…You know the ones people got up on Saturday mornings to watch.  They don’t compare to the really BAD ones you see on television these days.  Some of them include: Johnny Bravo, Teen Titans, T.M.N.T, and Ruby Gloom.  In fact, I just finished watching an episode of Ruby Gloom and I smiled through the whole thing.  It’s so dark, yet so happy!  I highly recommend taking a trip down memory lane via old cartoons, you wont regret it.
Alright so here we go!
Bread, something nobody bakes anymore.  It’s a lost art because of how easy to buy it at the grocery store.  I’ll be honest with you all, I even buy my bread at the store.  However every once in a while I’ll roll up my sleeves, cover myself head to toe in flour, and think to myself “how come I don’t do this more often”.  The smell is what gets me, there’s nothing better than baking your own bread and having that mouth-watering smell waft through your home.  Now add your Saturday morning cartoons and you’re having the best weekend of your life.

Yields: 6-8 buns.    Prep time: 3ish hours.    Baking time: 20 minutes (or until golden).

Equipment:
Stand mixer with hook attachment (Or knead by hand).
Measuring cups and spoons.
Medium/large bowl.
Baking pan.
Dish cloth or plastic wrap.
Pastry brush.
Small bowl.
…and of course an oven.

Ingredients:
3 3/4 cups bread flour (all-purpose can be used).
1 1/4 teaspoon yeast.
2 teaspoons fine salt (I used fine sea salt)
1 teaspoon white sugar.
13 fluid oz warm water. (You can find fluid ounces on a liquid measuring cup)
Butter or coating the pan.
1 egg for brushing buns before going into the oven.

Method:
1. Pre-heat oven to 350/400 degrees.
2. Combine warm water, yeast and sugar together.  Let sit till yeast creates a foamy looking texture on top.
3. In stand mixer bowl combine flour and salt.  Add the water/yeast mixture to the flour on the lowest speed for about 2 minutes.
4. Continue to mix on the second lowest speed for about 5 minutes, or until the dough comes together and is smooth.
5. Knead on counter surface (no flour needed) to create a ball shape. Oil your medium-sized bowl and place dough ball inside.  Place on top of the oven(or in a warm area) to rise, placing a dish cloth on top or wrapping bowl with plastic wrap.
6. Once dough is double in size punch the dough down and knead for a minute or two.
7. Cut dough into even sections and tightly roll into smaller balls.
8. Place small dough balls in a buttered baking pan.  Slightly and gently press each one down (this creates that flatter appearance you need for a sandwich bun).  Cover with a dish towel or plastic wrap again and let rise till double its size (about 20 minutes).  Brushing butter on top of each roll before you put it to rise a second time will help the dough stay moist.
9. Once double in size brush each roll with egg wash, this will help the rolls turn that nice golden colour.
10. Bake in oven for about 20 minutes OR until golden.  Let rest till cool enough to handle.
11. ENJOY!!

**Note, I did not brush mine with egg wash, that is why they look so pale.

Squash- Tips and tricks.

Squash, often overlooked in grocery stores or only used during the holidays.  A lot of the time when I do see a squash in people’s fridges it has been there for weeks maybe months on end looking pretty; Till of course it gets to mouldy and needs to be thrown away.  Even though I love squash, I even find myself passing by the brightly coloured display next to the onions and potatoes.  Why? because they take FOREVER to cook.  You don’t need to keep a constant eye on them, and it surely takes no effort.  However for some reason it taking over an hour to roast seems painful; When I can just eat something at that very moment, or at least sooner.
Lately I’ve been buying squash though.  I’m starting to make myself eat more of a variety while I am at home, instead of waiting till I go to work.

In this entry I’ll be posting: different ways you can cook a squash, different types of squash, and different ways to enjoy it.

There are many types of squash, most can be prepared the same way.  However there is one in mind where roasting seems to be the only way.  The squash I’m talking about is the spaghetti Squash! When cooked it creates a stringy texture which gives it the “spaghetti” appearance.  The best way to cook it I find is by roasting.  Once cooked you can do whatever you want with it.  Saute in a pan with butter and seasonings, put it in a salad…you name it.
A list of some other squash are: Butternut, acorn, buttercup, red kuri, turban, etc..  The list could go on but I think you get the hint there are many.

For roasting you could cut the squash in half, take the seeds out and rub flesh with salt, pepper (whatever seasoning you like) and some oil…sometimes I like to use maple syrup.  Place them on a baking sheet flesh facing down and roast in oven at 350 degrees till somewhat soft. Then turn squash over so flesh is facing upwards.  Place back in often till finished cooking, this will give it a nice flavour and should be slightly golden.
Another way you could roast is by peeling and cutting the squash into chunks, and boiling the pieces in salted water like you would a potato. Once almost cooked, strain water.  Coat in oil and seasonings, place on baking sheet and roast at 350 degrees till golden.
To saute and caramelize them in a pan you would first have to boil it the same way as you were to roast them.

**Tip** By placing flesh face down first it gives a “steaming” effect.  This will allow it to cook before it starts to burn, same goes for boiling first.

There are many things you can put squash into, including desserts and lattes!  One of my favourite ways to enjoy squash is in pasta. A creamy non tomato based lasagna is so delicious when squash is involved, same goes with ravioli. Another way to enjoy it is in salad, caramelized squash with a fantastic vinaigrette based salad can be to die for.  How about a vegetarian sandwich? Soup, everyone loves a butternut squash soup.  It’s also really enjoyable stuffed inside some pork tenderloin with cranberries.   Heck, I even enjoy squash on its own. In fact I ate spaghetti squash today for lunch, with just some salt and cracked black pepper on top. Sometimes it’s nice keeping it simple, that’s for sure.

Well there’s my rant about squash, I hope you learned something from it!

Oh and to everyone in Nova Scotia right now, hope you’re enjoying the blizzard!  …Because I’m not.

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Some squash for you!

 

How to- Stocks and broths.

As I sit here writing, sipping on my Baileys tainted coffee I contemplate whether or not stock and both are the same.  A stock, often used in many sauces, soups and bases for countless dishes.  A broth, used to make soups and so many timeless culinary experiments.  It also sounds well, better; On a menu you would say, poached with “spiced pork broth” not “spiced pork stock”. These words are interchangeable, making food items and menus sound more tasteful and more desirable to eye when read.
If you think about it both stocks and broths start off the same, slowly simmering on the stove for hours with a variety of items such as; bones, vegetables, meats, some herbs and peppercorns.  However there are slight differences to consider when being technical about something.
The definition of a stock is bones/seafood shells(and meat if you want), vegetables, and maybe some herbs/spices simmered on the stove for hours. The definition of a broth is meat or vegetables and maybe some herbs/spices simmered on the stove for hours.
What’s the difference?  It’s the bones, broth contains no bones at all, meaning there will be no gelatin.  This gives a lighter taste, and colour.  Now does this mean someone will be angry at you when you do say “spiced pork broth” yet you used bones to make it?  NO! I would never not use bones unless I was making a vegetable broth, to me it taste a heck of a lot better.  Also like I stated before, these words are interchangeable…and no one follows the definition strictly anyways.

SO, with the stock and broth lesson over here is how you make a delicious stock or broth.  You’ll never have to buy the salty boxed stuff ever again for all your soup and sauce needs.  Also, did I mention it’s super easy to do, takes little effort, and extremely cheap to make?
Scraps can be used to make any stock or broth, such as carrot or onion peelings.  Even though they are normally thrown in the compost they provide plenty of flavouring and can be used instead of using whole items. Saving you money and time.

In the photos I provide I am making a shrimp stock, using shells from the shrimp I peeled at work.  Which turned out to be very delicious and, made an awesome soup for my supper that night.

Equipment:
1 large pot.
Cutting board.
Knife.
Container (for storage).
Colander or strainer of sorts.
Ladle.

Ingredients: (for stocks)
Enough bones/shells to fill your pot almost 3/4 full. (you may use some scarp meat if you like)
A bunch of herbs.  Such as: thyme, parsley or rosemary. (If desired)
Onions/leeks. (peels are welcomed)
Carrots. (peels welcomed)
Celery. (washed)
Some whole peppercorns.
Tomato paste is optional if making a veal/beef stock.
Ingredients: (for broth)
Enough meat and vegetables 3/4 full. (no meat if making vegetable broth)
Herbs if desired.
Whole peppercorns.

Method:
**Because both are made the same way there will only be one method.
1. If you desire a different taste, roast bones and/or vegetables till slightly golden at 350 degrees or higher.   If you are making a veal/beef stock and are using tomato paste, roast bones and vegetables till golden.  Once golden spread paste all over and roast again for about 10 minutes.  You do not have to roast.
2. Place all items in a large pot (including drippings and small bits left on pan!!) and fill with water till just over your ingredients.  Bring up to a boil and quickly bring down to a simmer.  DO NO STIR AT ALL!! How long it simmers depends on what type of stock/broth you are making so here is a list of times.
Chicken stock/broth– No less than 1.5 hours.
Veal/beef stock/broth– No less than 8 hours.
Fish/shellfish stock– 1- 1.5 hours.  No more, no less. (less will be watery, more will be bitter and foggy)
Vegetable broth– at least 1 hour.
3. While simmering and depending on the type of stock/broth you’ll want to skim the fat off the top.  Using a ladle grab the fat the floats on top throughout the whole time it’s simmering. By doing this it will become less bitter and of course less fatty.
4. Take off heat and strain into your desired container, leaving no small bits.  Let cool.  End product should be clear and have plenty of flavour.
5. ENJOY!!

Iced ginger green tea.

Lately I’ve been cutting out as many sugary drinks as possible.  I knew that I couldn’t just drink coffee all day, I would be so dehydrated (as much as I would love to). I also knew that drinking water all day could be boring, even though I actually like the taste of water.  So I decided to make my own healthy versions of iced tea.  Green tea is really good for you;  It has antioxidants in it which keep you looking young and fresh, it speeds up your metabolism and helps with your heart.  Ginger is also great for you by helping with stress, has anti inflammatory effects, boosts the immune system and helps with nausea.  Both of these ingredients have way more health benefits and are extremely healthy.  So it just made sense that I would make an iced tea out of them for a refreshing beverage.
Now this doesn’t mean I’ll never enjoy a Dr.Pepper ever again. It’s all in moderation right?

This weeks post as you can see is a little simple and that’s okay.  Every once in a while it’s okay to take it easy and enjoy the little things life has to offer.  Plus I’ve been so busy planning my big move, making sure everything is perfect!  I’ve also been working a lot to save up those dollars.  I’m such a procrastinator that if I don’t go crazy with lists and planning there’s a good chance I will wait till right before I leave.  So whoever is reading this I hope you enjoy it, because this drink has defiantly helped me this past week.

Ingredients:
5-6 bags of green tea.
About 3 ounces of ginger, or whatever your taste buds call for.
Two table spoons of honey. More or less depending on your taste

Equipment:
1 juice jug.
A spoon for stirring.
1 medium pot.
Knife.
Cutting board.
A spoon for peeling the ginger.

Method:
1. Peel ginger and cut into slices.  Combine with 5-6 cups of water in a medium-sized pot.
2. Bring water and ginger to a boil, turn temperature down and let simmer for several minutes; Until ginger is nicely infused with water.
3. Let the water cool just a little, about 5 minutes.  Combine ginger water and tea bags in a juice jug.  Let steep for 5 to 10 minutes.
4. Take tea bags and ginger pieces out and compost it.  Place tea in fridge to completely cool.
5. ENJOY!!

**I accidentally used the wrong tea when I made it again, being tired and all….so the colour is a little off in this photo.

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Preserved lemons.

I never liked tartar sauce, it always seemed disgusting to me for some reason…and same with fish sticks.  It might have something to do with always encountering them from a jar or box.  Recently that all changed, I had finally tried a tartar sauce that was made by hand and to my surprise it was delicious;  Same goes for fish sticks.  Who knew making something could taste so much better….well I did, but for some reason I never wanted to give this sauce any type of chance.  After that experience I had tried and tested all sorts of recipes.  The one that stood out the most was one that had preserved lemons in it.
So here it is, the last preserved citrus fruit post….for now.  This week post is on preserved lemons and they are very delicious to add to any savoury food such as, tartar sauce.   You will be directed to the canning post I wrote several weeks ago once you get to the method section.

Equipment:
Large pot.
Mason jars
Cutting board.
Knife.
Medium bowl.
Measuring cups.
Wooden spoon/normal spoon.
Dish cloth.
Grinder (for salt).

Ingredients:
5-6 lemons.
A lot of coarse salt. (I used a pink rock salt)
Cloves.
Bay leaves.

Method:
1. Cut lemons into wedges leaving 2 for juicing. Juice the lemons.
2. Crush salt, rub a bunch directly into lemons.  Combine juice, cloves, bay leaves and more salt.
3. Place the mixture into the mason jars and sprinkle a little more salt on top.
4. Follow the canning method I posted several weeks ago by clicking the following link.  How to- Canning method.
5. Every once in a while give it a shake to mix up all the salt and liquid.