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Smashed Sweet Potato with Feta and Cilantro

12 Sep

I’m starting to think if you’re not a cilantro fan this blog isn’t very kind to you. Oops!  I’ll try to post some recipes that aren’t as heavy on it. This on could easily do without it. You could add parsley instead or just leave it out all together.

A lot of the time speed and simpleness outweighs creativity when it comes to side dishes when I’m at the helm. We eat a ton of sweet potato, but usually in the form of oven fries or just plain mashed. I know, yawn.

Smashed Sweet Potato with Feta and Cilantro (courtesy of Jamie Oliver)

Serves 4


2 large sweet potatoes, quartered

1 yellow potato, quartered

1/2 a lemon

1/4 cup water

2 ounces feta cheese

1 fresh red chili, seeded and finely diced (or you could always use chili flakes if you don’t have a fresh chili)

1/3 cup of fresh cilantro

In a pot place the sweet and yellow potato and 1/2 a lemon. Make sure they all fit nice and snug. Put 1/4 cup of water in the bottom.

Place a lid on the pot, bring the water to a boil – this will take 2 secs, it’s only 1/4 cup of water. Then turn to medium high heat and steam the potatoes for about 15 minutes until completely cooked through. (You can also do this in the microwave. Just use a microwave safe dish with a tightly fitting lid and microwave on high for 15 minutes).

Get out a large cutting board (I use this cutting board to chop the chili and then just leave the chopped chili right on the board). put your cilantro on top of the diced chili and run your knife through it a few times so it’s roughly chopped. Place the feta on top and do the same to the feta.

Toss the lemon and drain any excess liquid from the pot. mash the potato very roughly with a fork. Turn the potatoes onto the cutting board on top of the other ingredients and chop and mix. This is very rough, no need to have smoothly mash potato. Just chop to mix in the cilantro, feta and chili.

Serve right off the cutting board.

How’s that for a spicy Monday?


Piri Piri Chicken

6 Sep

I don’t have cable tv. I know. I’m crazy.

The result of not having cable tv is that whenever I am somewhere that has tv I am glued to it. I mainly watch the food channel. Not those reality or competition cooking shows. My thing are the good old-fashioned shows (not sure a tv show can be called old fashion, but you get the point) that feature regular recipes, chefs that write cook books that real people use, and no drama. It’s going to sound cheesy, but I find inspiration in these shows. Sometimes ingredient combination ideas lay foundation for delicious creations. Sometimes a certain kind of food is something I never knew how to cook or even considered. Other times it is just a down right amazing sounding recipe and I NEED to make it as is. This last scenario happened this past weekend.

Jamie Oliver – love him. He has some new show I didn’t know about (it may not even be new – I am so lame without cable). 30 minute meals. Amazing! Who doesn’t need a new tasty meal that only takes 30 minutes?

Last weekend was piri piri chicken. I immediately craved it. This recipe is superb! and very quick and easy.

Piri Piri Chicken (courtesy of Jamie Oliver)

Serves 4


4 large bone-in skin-on chicken thighs (if you can’t get large ones just double up on small ones, I did this and just made a bit more sauce)

1 red pepper cut into large chunks

1 yellow pepper cut into large chunks

cilantro for garnish

Piri Piri Sauce:

1/2 a red onion

2 cloves of garlic

hot peppers (what I used was 1 habanero pepper, seeded, an inch of a mirasol pepper with the seeds – the result? it was spicy, but not too spicy, totally tolerable. Really use any kind of hot peppers you want)

1 tbsp sweet smoked paprika

juice of a lemon

2 tbsp white wine vinegar

1 tbsp worcestershire sauce (can anyone actually pronounce this?)

1/2 cup basil leaves

Turn the oven on to 400 degrees.

Take the chicken thighs and place them on a cutting board skin side down. Cut a slit on either side of the bone and two slit running across the bone (don’t cut all the way through). This is sort of butterflying your chicken, it will spread out evenly and flat in the pan and the bottom will soak up more of the sauce.

Heat a fry pan or griddle pan to medium high heat. Pour in a splash of olive oil. Place the chicken thighs skin side down and cook until browned and crispy (about 10 minutes). Flip over and cook for another 5 minutes.

While your chicken is cooking place all the ingredients for the sauce into a food processor and puree. Then add 2 tbsp of water and puree again. (the water will account for any steam lost in the oven).

Pour the sauce into a baking dish that will snugly fit the chicken. Place the chicken in the dish skin side up and bake for 10 to 15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.

Discard any grease in the sauce pan. Turn the burner to high and toss in the peppers. Saute them until they are seared.

Scatter the peppers over the chicken and garnish with cilantro.

This dish was amazing! I brought it for lunch the next day and started eating it at 9:30 a.m.

Expect another recipe from this episode next. Sweet potato mash with feta and cilantro! I can’t be stopped!!!! Thank you Jamie!

oh ya, happy back to school. Make this on a school night. It’s fast and tasty!

Linda’s Mango-Cilantro Salad Dressing

22 Aug

Let’s talk family. I’ve got a big one. 5 younger siblings. I know, huge in modern-day standards right? As we are all getting older our family is getting larger.  The great thing is, just when you thought you’re fantastically large family couldn’t get any better one of your siblings brings in a new family member (I’m talking significant others here). This is where Linda comes in. He is my sister’s boyfriend. Ya, his name isn’t actually Linda. It’s Linn. But Linda has such a nicer ring to it doesn’t it?

Linda recently moved back out east (he hails from there). And on Friday my sister moved there too….sad. The good news is Linda still sends me recipes….and the even better news, the recipes are delicious (he has actually only sent me one – this one – Linda, get on it!).

This is fresh and the mango dressing is a really great alternative to the vinegar, oil and dijon salad dressing that I usually turn to!

Linda’s Salad

Serves 4


1 box of mixed greens

1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved

2 shallots, sliced

1/2 cup walnuts, lightly toasted

1/3 cup dried cranberries

1/2 a red pepper, sliced

1/2 a green pepper, sliced

Feta for garnish

Mango-Cilantro Salad Dressing:

1 cup olive oil

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

1/4 cup honey

zest and juice of 1 lemon

zest and juice of 1 lime

1/2 cup fresh or frozen mango chunks

1/4 cup fresh cilantro

In a large bowl combine all the salad ingredients.

Linda’s exact wording for how to make the dressing: “throw all those dressing into a food processor and watch the mess turn into deliciousness.” He also very correctly informed me that this dressing made enough to feed a small army (however, I did discover it keeps beautifully in the fridge).

Dress and toss the salad. Sprinkle a little bit of feta over top and enjoy!

Linda says and I quote…..”as we say in the east coast, it’s “off the chainz””

Seafood Paella

8 Aug

So I hit a bit of a bloggers block. Somewhere between work, wedding, and…oh geeze I wish I had another word that starts with w…. I’m going to blame the heat wave – if you live in Toronto, or anywhere in central Canada or the U.S. you know what I’m talking about. Thankfully our home (that was built in 1888) has central air. Clearly I am living super authentically in my victorian home.

Anyways I am back with a mighty fine seafood dish. Seafood Paella to be exact. A year ago we took a trip to Spain. Specifically France, with a brief pass through of Spain, but more on that later. For now we’re talking about Spain. In Spain one evening we had dinner outdoors with some wonderful friends and we had paella.

We are having a nice summer here in Ontario, but it’s no Spain. So the other night we had our friends we were in Spain with over for an outdoor Spanish dining fiesta! OLE! (I don’t speak Spanish, can you tell?). We got spanish beer, they brought spanish wine, we started with smoked paprika shrimp (b/c if it’s got paprika on it then it’s Spanish right?), and we had this seafood paella.  I highly recommend you do the same. STAT!

Feel free to change any of the seafood, or add something that’s your favourite that I didn’t put in. I often leave out the mussels or the scallops, but I’m trying to give you guys the gold standard here (I hope this makes up for my absence).

Seafood Paella

Serves 4 to 6


1 cup arborio rice

4 cups of seafood stock (recipe follows at the bottom – or buy seafood stock)

1 cup dry white wine (this is for going in the food, not your wine glass. Just a little hint for all you lushes out there – although I would be the best recipe creator EVER if I actually said you need a cup of wine in your glass for sipping while cooking to make the recipe work….I think I am onto something)

1 onion, diced

1/2 bulb of fennel, sliced

1 tbsp smoked paprika

a pinch of saffron threads soaked in 1 tablespoon of warm water

1 lb large shrimp (peeled – i usually leave the tails on b/c it looks nicer, but you could be more considerate and forgo aesthetics for your guests convenience of not having to pull off the tails. To each their own. I prefer to make people work harder if it looks nicer when I serve. I’m a bit of an asshole apparently). ***Save the shrimp shells if you are making the seafood stock from scratch.

1/2 lb of calamari (do not use the breaded kind that is served with cocktail sauce or I may personally come over and smack you. Get fresh or frozen straight-up calamari), sliced into rings with tentacles separated (I just mean don’t slice the tentacles, keep them intact, they look super cool when cooked)

1 lb mussels, rinsed

2 smoked chorizo sausages, sliced

1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved

1 cup frozen green peas

lemon wedges and parsley for garnish

Sorry for the wordy ingredient list. I have missed you all dearly and just can’t stop rambling.

Toss the shrimp, calamari and scallops in some olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Heat a BBQ or a grill pan to medium-high heat and grill for a few minutes on each side until cooked through. Set aside on a plate and cover with foil.

Heat a large pan to medium-high heat. Pour in a glug (yup, real measurement….I’m so scientific) of olive oil and saute the onions and fennel for a few minutes until slightly softened. Add the arborio rice, paprika and saffron threads with water and continue to saute for about 2 minutes. Add the cup of wine and stir until the wine has been fully absorbed by the rice. Add the seafood stock 1/2 cup at a time, stirring while it absorbs. Repeat when all the liquid has absorbed until you have used 3 cups of the stock (if chosing option 1) or 4 cups of stock if chosing option 2).

There are 2 ways of dealing with the mussels: (option 2 is fail-safe if you’re a first time mussel steamer)

Option 1: Place the mussels in the rice with the hinge (the part that will stay closed when they open) down and the top of the mussel (the part that opens) sticking straight up. Add in the remaining 1 cup of liquid, cover with a lid and allow to steam until the mussels open.

Option 2: You can get a large pot, pour in one cup of water with one cup of wine toss in the mussels, bring to a boil and cover and let steam until the mussels open. Then add them to the Paella at the very end just before serving.

Whatever you do, be sure to discard any mussels that do not open. They will make you very very sick.

Stir in the cherry tomatoes, peas, grilled seafood and chorizo. Combine and serve when all those delicious ingredients you just added are warmed through.

Serve with some lemon wedges on the side and sprinkle some parsley on top.

I recommend you consume this with copious amounts of sangria. It’s really just a suggestion though. I may not be the best influence when it comes to appropriate sangria consumption amounts.

Seafood Stock (this stock is all Ina Garten – that women is way too clever) – I use this stock in so many different dishes, it is so versatile and delicious!

makes 4 cups


the shells of 1 lb of large shrimp

2 yellow onions, roughly chopped

2 carrots, roughly chopped

3 stalks fo celery, roughly chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

6 cups of water

1/2 cup of dry white wine

1/3 cup tomato paste

1 tsp sea salt

10 grinds of black pepper

10 sprigs of fresh thyme.

Heat a stock pot to medium high heat and pour in a glug of olive oil. Toss in the shrimp shells, onion, carrot and celery and saute until slightly softened. Add the garlic and continue to saute for 2 minutes. Add the water, white wine, tomato paste, salt, pepper and thyme. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Allow to simmer for 1 hour. Strain through a sieve pressing the solids to get all the liquid. If you don’t have 4 cups of liquid simply make up the difference with water or wine (I would go with wine. Duh!)

This freezes beautifully. I often make it if I am making a shrimp dish. I hate throwing out perfectly good shrimp shells when I have this recipe in my repertoire!

There you have it. Spain at home. If you are thinking, um, Katie, you just made risotto, not paella, well I have two things to say 1) stop blocking my creativity, and 2) this is cabbagetown people, not Spain. I have made it the way you are supposed to in the past. This way is better. Go with it.

Ahi Tuna Nicoise Salad

5 Jul

A little late….but Happy Birthday Canada and Happy Pride Toronto!!! What a great country we live in, and this city, providing equal rights to all! What a weekend to celebrate! And celebrate we did!!!!!

Looking for something light and refreshing after a long weekend of over-indulging? I’ve got the ticket.

A fresh new take on Salad Nicoise that is elegant enough to serve to company as the main event! Who knew?

By swapping out canned tuna for ahi tuna and adding a few extra “touches” this dish will get you some fans.

Ahi Tuna Nicoise Salad

(serves 4)


1 large ahi tuna steak (be sure to buy sushi grade)

1 recipe of mayonnaise free potato salad (however, make twice the dressing and set the additional amount aside)

2 cups of green beans (ignore my photos – the stupid food store only had yellow beans – I am starting to think I shop at the wrong store as this sort of thing is beginning to become a theme)

1 cup of black olives (whatever kind you like best)

4 hard boiled eggs, quartered*(see below for a tip to boil the perfect egg. read: no weird green around the yolk)

4 perfectly ripe tomatoes, quartered

1 box of baby arugula

Season your ahi tuna with olive oil and black pepper. Heat a grill pan on high heat. Sear the tuna for 30 seconds to 1 minute per side. The idea here is to have a very rare centre (this is sushi grade fish so raw centre is perfectly acceptable – just be sure to buy sushi grade). Move to a cutting board and thinly slice into strips.

Trim the green beans and steam them for 3 minutes – rinse under cold water to ensure that nice green colour and crispness.

The glory of this meal is in the presentation. You can either do this on a large platter and let guests help themselves or arrange each plate. I usually do a platter.

Cover the platter with a layer of arugula. Then place the green beans in one area, the potato salad in another, the tomatoes in another, the egg in another, the olives in another and the slices tuna in another.

Drizzle the entire thing with your remaining dressing.

I made this for father’s day (as it is a real favourite of my dad’s). Always a hit. And always a nice light alternative dinner following a weekend full of Canada pride and gay pride!!!!!!

Fiddleheads with Edamame and Feta

14 Jun

Before fiddlehead season is over it is imparitive that you all know about this recipe. I LOVE fiddleheads. I usually just steam them and eat them straight up. I guess Mark was getting a bit sick of this. When we got the newest Food & Drink from the LCBO he pointed out this recipe and insisted I make it.

This really adds to fiddleheads. Since we tried it the first time I can’t stop!

As I am writing this Vancouver is down 4 – 0. Lame. I was hoping for a more exciting evening. Thank god I still have you fiddleheads!

If you’re a fiddlehead lover – or dare I say it, a fiddlehead virgin, try this recipe! It’ll hook you.

Fiddleheads with Edamame and Feta (from LCBO Food & Drink, early summer 2011)

Serves 4


8 oz (250 g) fresh fiddleheads

2 1/2 cups of shelled edamame

1 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp olive oil

1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Steam the fiddleheads until fork tender (3 to 5 minutes). Allow to cool. I buy frozen shelled edamame so I steam them according to the package directions – I suggest you go this route as well (big hint – it’s the EASIEST!). Allow to cool.

In a large bowl toss the fiddleheads and edamame with lemon juice, olive oil and feta.

We are eating this on a bi-weekly basis. Not taking advantage of fiddlehead season would be a crime!

I think I am personally eating the majority of the baby ferns in Ontario. When I put it that way it doesn’t sound so great…..something about eating and baby in the same sentence. This isn’t the same as veal. Go for it!

Mayonnaise Free Potato Salad

13 Jun

I am not a mayonnaise hater, I just find sometimes it weighs things down. Potato salad doesn’t have to be terrible for you. It can be light and fresh and easy on the waist line. In the summer I eat a significant amount of potato salad and this recipe is my fail safe!

I make this to last for days so we can eat it all week. It’s the perfect accompaniment to some fall off the bone ribs, herb marinated chicken kebas, lemon pepper fish kebabs or blue cheese stuffed burgers. Basically, if you BBQ it, throw this on the side!

I’ve kinda got a thing for herbs. They really liven things up (geeze that statement makes my life sound thrilling…..)

mayonnaise Free Potato Salad

Serves 4 to 6


1.5 lb of mixed small potatoes (by mixed I mean purple, white and red – it looks prettier this way). If you live in Canada President’s Choice makes what I use – found here. If mixed aren’t available to you, simple small red or white potatoes will work just fine!

1/2 cup olive oil

3 tbsp white wine vinegar

the juice of one lemon

1 tbsp dijon mustard

1 tbsp whole grain dijon mustard

5 grinds of black pepper

5 green onions, diced

1/3 cup of chopped fresh cilantro (if you are a cilantro hater, totally fine, leave it out, or replace it with flat leaf italian parsley)

1/3 cup of chopped fresh basil

1/3 cup of chopped fresh dill

Bring a large pot of water to boil and boil the potatoes until they are fork tender. Strain and slice the hot potatoes in half, placing them in a large bowl. In another bowl, or a glass measuring cup whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, dijon mustard, whole grain dijon mustard and pepper. Pour the dressing over the potatoes while they are still hot* and toss. Allow them to cool to room temperature.

*As a side note I want to talk about putting the dressing on while the potatoes are hot. I find they absorb the dressing very while they cool. I make sure to give them a toss every 15 minutes or so as they cool to ensure they are all getting enough dressing attention.

Once the dressed potatoes are room temperature I toss them with the fresh herbs and green onion. Now you can either serve or refrigerate until later.

If you refrigerate until later they may seem a tad dry when you take them out to serve. When I say dry I mean they may seem like there is very little dressing on them (b/c it has been absorbed by the potatoes). If this is the case I squeeze another lemon over them and toss with a few tbsp of olive oil.

This is such a versatile side dish.

Perfect to store in the fridge if you have large numbers at the cottage for the weekend. Or to keep you going all week-long with a side dish.

Seriously, purple potatoes are pretty cool.

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