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pasta with basil sauce

pasta with basil sauceAfter three weeks overseas, I am happy to be back home.  Mr. S and I love to travel almost as much as we enjoy being in our humble abode.  When away, I encounter (stumble upon) new ways to dress up old dishes.  Stumble upon; another word perhaps for getting lost.  Not that we are frequently lost when walking around new cities or neighbourhoods, it’s just that what seems to be a logical route turns out to be a completely different area.  Not to fret, though, as these missteps can deliver a sense of jubilation when one sees something unique.  For us, it’s finding an enchanting historic building or a hole-in-the-wall cafe.  I don’t go out of my way looking for clothing shops, instead, I hunt down historical spots with places to eat and drink injected along the way.  In doing so we have discovered many hidden treasures and were able to eat like a local. Continue Reading →

Grilled Pepper Salad

grilled pepper saladSimple ingredients mingling together to pull off an out-of-this-world taste! If you’ve never had grilled peppers then you are in for one heck of a treat!  Grilling or roasting brings out their natural sweetness making them so good on their own and they really don’t need much attention to shine, so keep the ingredients simple.  A grilled pepper takes little effort to cook so don’t fret about the charred veggie.  It’s this step that enhances their flavor to give you a slight smokey, sweet taste.  Continue Reading →

fresh fruit tart

fresh fruit tartThis time of year the local farmers’ markets are bursting with fresh produce.  It’s a place I enjoy wandering around seeing what vendors have to offer.  Last weekend I picked up a lovely box of redcurrants.  I haven’t used these for what seems like eternity and it was a fruit my mom used for jellies.  Continue Reading →

Citrus Fruit Salad with Roasted Pecans

Citrus Fruit SaladWe had a glorious sun-filled weekend.  Today the morning started off with a grey sky and snow falling gently to the ground…the chunky snowflakes were pretty but more snow?  A total of 10cm (4-inches) fell with more forecasted on the way.  I’m usually more tolerant of our winters and I really don’t want to sound like a broken record, but for the love God, please stop snowing!  Continue Reading →

Crab Pasta with Lemon

budget friendly crab pastaPasta is one of my go-to dishes when I am either pressed for time or not in the mood to cook. There are oodles of dried pasta varieties available, including a good selection of gluten-free, making it a versatile staple most cooks have in their cupboards.  I had a package of cooked imitation crab meat which kept staring me in the face each time I opened the freezer drawer.  I kept thinking I’ll make something with it…someday.  Crab pasta is a cinch to make and you can whip it up in the time it takes to cook the pasta.  Continue Reading →

How To Cook Fresh Peas

how to cook fresh peasI love recreating a food memory.  I grew up in the country where my parents had enough land to grow their own vegetables along with 2 pigs and 6 hens.  We didn’t have a farm per se, it was more of a hobby farm.  Looking back it was an interesting learning experience for me but at the time, a vegetable garden (a large one at that!) and a few farm animals meant outside chores increased and that ate into my summer time fun.  When my siblings and I got older, we would help mom prepare the vegetables and shelling peas was one I did not mind doing.  Continue Reading →

Goat Cheese Stuffed Baby Peppers

Goat Cheese Stuffed Baby Peppers by The Culinary ChaseYou’re walking past the produce section of your local grocery store and a bag of sweet baby peppers catch your eye. You look at their pretty rainbow colors, think about what you could them, and then decide they’ll spoil before you can use them. It’s a usual scenario for me especially when I’m preparing meals for two and we don’t have a freezer, only the one in the refrigerator which is tiny to begin with (the price one pays for an ice maker). I grabbed the bag anyway…I’m a sucker for pretty-looking produce! I roasted some of the peppers and added them to a sausage and quinoa polenta dish. The remainder were used in this dish. We enjoy cheese of all sorts – well not the ones with fruit added (yuck!). Goat cheese is so versatile and perfect to use with baby peppers. For this recipe, try using a goat cheese log (chèvre) which is soft and spreadable.  A super easy appetizer to make over and over again!

Serves 2 to 4

1/2 package baby bell peppers
goat cheese log
handful fresh mint, chopped
handful fresh parsley, chopped
pinch of chili pepper flakes
1 tablespoon minced garlic
good quality balsamic vinegar (optional)
olive oil

baby bell peppersPreheat oven to 375f.
In a small bowl, mix goat cheese, herbs, chili pepper flakes and add a splash of olive oil. The oil helps to make the cheese more spreadable.

goat cheese stuffed bell peppers by The Culinary ChaseSlice peppers lengthwise, clear seeds and any white membrane. In the cavity of each pepper add a drop or two of balsamic vinegar. Use a small spoon to fill the peppers with the herbed goat cheese. Bake 20 minutes or until cheese has melted and lightly browned. If you like, use the broiler in your oven to finish off the browning process but keep an eye on it as it will brown quickly.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:
Skip the herbs and add a tablespoon or more of homemade pesto to the goat cheese. Enjoy!

Fennel and Blood Orange Salad

blood orange & fennel salad by The Culinary ChaseThere’s something alluring and mysterious when you spot a sign in your grocery store for blood oranges.  Will it bleed when cut?  Will it taste vastly different from an ordinary orange?  Yes, the juices are more defined because of the visual red pigment, and yes, it’ll taste slightly bitter but not as acid.  But look at that color!  The days are getting longer and putting me in the mood for summertime food. Fennel and blood orange salad is so light and airy I am easily reminded of warmer weather and sun-drenched days. Blood oranges originally came from Sicily and Spain although some are now grown in California.  They’re lovely in salads, cocktails, sorbet, tarts, marmalades and salsas.  This salad is super easy to make, amazing in flavors and texture and let’s not forget nutritionally good.

Serves 4

2 blood oranges, peeled and segmented
large fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced (use a mandoline)
feta cheese, crumbled
lemon
extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
fennel fronds (wispy little leaves at the tips of a fennel bulb)

blood orange by The Culinary Chase1. In a bowl toss fennel slices with a splash of olive oil and about a tablespoon of lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Arrange fennel on plates followed by blood orange segments. Top with feta cheese and drizzle with olive oil.  If you have any fennel fronds, scatter over the salad.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:
Use fresh dill if the fennel fronds don’t look great or have been chopped off.  Enjoy!

The Cookery’s DoughNation

The Cookery's DoughNationFood trucks have been around since the mid 1800’s although back then they were called chuckwagons.  Food trucks of today have evolved and now offer gourmet food at take-away prices.  These mobile kitchens are growing in numbers and the ones that really entice me to stop by and sample are those using a variety of fresh and local ingredients.  The Cookery’s DoughNation is a hand-crafted mobile pizza oven where it sits on top of a trailer.   I was at Dobbs Ferry last Friday and watched them set up.

It was a hot and humid morning.

DoughNation set up Food prep started shortly after I arrived.  The sound of wood crackling in the oven meant it was building up heat and soon the local peppers were popped into the oven.  The oven heat ranges from 800 degrees to 900 degrees…a hot job.

wood

sign

DoughNation offers five pizzas and one market pizza.  I couldn’t decide on the fresh lemon or shaved broccoli.  I asked Mike and he said if this is your first time, try the fresh lemon.

DoughNation pizza

My pizza!

fresh lemon pizza

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  This has to be the best pizza I have ever eaten!  The dough was light and airy and I loved the combo of smoked mozzarella, lemon, basil and garlic.  Amazing flavors!   The back of their menu shows where 2% of their profits will go for the month of July – Robbie’s Bone Marrow Fund Raiser.

Thai Larb

Thai-Style Pork LarbThe other night John and I were watching Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Guy Fieri was visiting a diner in Hawaii called Opal’s. It’s owned by a Thai family and as we watched the larb come together, our mouths started to water. It has been far too long since we had this! Larb is the national dish of Laos and can be made with ground meat or fish and flavored with fresh herbs and spices.  Thai larb is easy to make, perfect finger food and a fun way for your kids to eat more veggies.

Serves 2
1/2 lb. ground pork
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon agave or honey
1 to 2  teaspoons hot sauce
handful slivered red onion
handful cilantro
handful fresh mint
handful fresh basil
Boston lettuce, remove 4 layers (use as cups)
1 carrot, peeled and julienned (alternatively you can use the potato peeler)
handful finely sliced purple cabbage
1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

larb ingredientsPan-fry ground pork in a bit of olive oil until no longer pink. Remove from heat and drain any liquid. Add lime juice, fish sauce, hot sauce and agave to fried pork – stir. In a bowl toss onion, cilantro, mint, basil, cabbage and bell pepper. Add pork to vegetable mixture and lightly toss. Fill lettuce cups and fold up like you would a tortilla.

larb fillingThe Culinary Chase’s Note: You can use ground chicken, beef, or fish if you don’t like pork.  and a wonderful way to incorporate veggies into a meal.  Enjoy!