Balinese Satay Chicken & Coconut Peanut Sauce

Coming to you is another travel inspired, globe trotting recipe immersed with Balinese culture and flavors! My recent trip to Bali this January was filled with a lot of culinary experiences, which included cafes to hidden gem restaurants! I once again had to reminisce back on every meal I loved and decipher which I wanted to bring to your plate. This, as you can imagine, was down right impossible! To choose from all the goodness Bali had to offer was certainly tough! But my mind kept going back to my first dinner on the East coast of Bali, a simple Chicken Satay, AKA, Sate Lilit Ayam. So that’s what it came down too, a beautiful way to share food and fill your belly is my version of a Balinese Satay Chicken & Coconut Peanut Sauce.

Bali has an intriguing combination of historical culinary influences, the cuisine consists of traditional Indonesian flavours, combined with Chinese and Indian flares. It is so apparent in the popular rice & curry dishes you can find in traditional restaurants. This stunning island is also populated with plenty of cafes and restaurants catered towards tourists. Some offer foreign flavours, some have poorly executed bland Balinese food, while others have beautifully melded new age modernized dishes with old school Balinese flavours which created magic.

The coffee industry in Bali has always been booming but cafes are bringing their robust beans to the next level. We loved taste testing every cup of java and cafe hopping! Beware of the coffee plantation tours and insane prices at the end of them. They boast their Luwak coffee (an animal which eats the coffee bean, then poops it out, yes poops it out!) It is quite the delicacy, but most of the Luwak beans we found out were fake and extremely over priced. These tours were an immersion into their coffee culture, but with caged up Luwak’s and insane prices in their boutiques, we had better luck buying real sumptuous coffee at Seniman Coffee in UBUD.

Luwak Poop
Latte from Seniman Cafe in Ubud

Our typical daily meals were starting the days with a cup of delectable floral coffee, fresh & sweet tropical fruit or bright smoothie bowls. After much exploring, snorkelling, monkey forests, temples, bike riding, waterfalls and rice fields, we would be famished. Lunch usually consisted of satays, fried rice, fresh coconut curries, laska soups, veggie bowls while sipping on fresh coconut water or lassi smoothies. Dinner was usually lighter with some grilled fish, veggie slaws, more fresh fruit and our favorite dessert, sticky rice pudding to end the day perfectly!

Now that you’ve gotten a glimpse of Balinese food, I’m so thrilled to bring you my take on satay! My Balinese Satay Chicken & Coconut Peanut Sauce is perfect for sharing and bringing together those you love. Full of savoury spices with a rich peanut sauce to mop up with perfectly grilled chicken satay. Time to get the grill going again as summer nears again, although I BBQ in the snow, as most Canadians do, hehe! Alright, here is the recipe!

Here is your shopping list:

Ingredients:

15-20 Bamboo skewers – soaked

For the Chicken Marinade:

2 garlic cloves crushed

2 chicken breasts – cut into long thin slices

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp fresh ginger (or dried)

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp chili powder

2 tbsp tamarind (gluten free) or soy sauce

1 tsp shredded unsweetened coconut

For the Peanut Sauce:

3 tbsp peanut butter

2 tbsp roasted peanuts

1 garlic clove

2 tbsp tamari

1/2 tbsp lime juice

1/2 tsp sesame oil

1/3 cup coconut milk

1 red chili finely diced

2 tsp honey (I used Drizzle’s Turmeric Honey)

1 tbsp shredded unsweetened coconut

Get Cooking:

Get your bamboo skewers soaking in water to avoid them burning on the grill.

Start by cutting your chicken breasts into long thin strips, thick enough to thread onto your bamboo skewer lengthwise.

Add all your marinade ingredients into a food processor or I pulled out my mortar and pestle and got smashing! Blend until marinade smooth and pour over chicken strips in a bowl, allow them to marinade as you make the peanut sauce.

For the peanut sauce heat your sesame oil over medium low heat, then add peanuts, garlic, chili’s and coconut, stir and heat for 3-5 minutes. Once fragrant, add your tamari, peanut butter, honey and coconut milk, stir and heat for another 5 minutes, add lime juice to finish. Pour into a bowl and allow to cool.

Next, take your soaked bamboo sticks and thread your chicken on, weave the stick through a couple times. Heat grill to 400 degrees, make sure your grill is oiled and put your chicken sticks on, cook approximately 5 minutes per side, flip and cook another 4-5 minutes or until done.

Pile up your chicken satay sticks, you can toss some cilantro and green onion on them and have your peanut sauce ready for dipping. My Balinese Chicken Satay with Peanut Coconut Sauce makes an amazing appetizer and great for social finger food! Get ready to be transported to Bali!

I cannot wait for you guys to try these little chicken sticks of DELICIOUSNESS! I love hearing from you guys and thank you for your continued following and support, it’s beautifully overwhelming, XOXO.

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A Taste of India – Red Lentil Coconut Kale Dahl

I am finally getting a chance to sit down and reminisce a little bit about my trip to India! Most of you know I had the opportunity to go for a medical mission in the Bengal region of India, I also had some time to explore the region as well as the excitement of the city of Kolkata. The seriously incredible cuisine and the beautiful hospitality of the Indian people has truly transformed me! As well, it’s what you’ve all been waiting and asking for… I am bringing you a delicious recipe that will bring India to your own table, no need for the 2 days of travel! It was ridiculously difficult to know where to begin on what recipe to create, there are so many flavours and dishes that I fell in absolute love with in India, choosing just one to bring to you today seemed literally impossible. In the end I decided to keep it simple and traditional with a dahl, a Red Lentil Coconut Kale Dahl to be more precise!

You are probably wondering, what the heck is dahl!? Dahl is a very common dish in India, usually served at pretty much every meal and incorporates some type of legume such as lentils, split peas or beans, it is then transformed into a punch you in the face (in a good way) with flavour, stew or soup! The flavours and presentation of dahl changes greatly from region to region in India, I was in the Bengal region and a lot of the dahl had a sweet undertone with coconut influence. I LOVE LOVE coconut and decided to elevate this recipe by adding shredded coconut to the stew itself, as well as start with some coconut oil for richness and finish with some hearty coconut milk for depth. I am so thrilled to share this Red Lentil Coconut Kale Dahl recipe with all of you, it turned out better than I could have expected!

I’m sure you have all had Indian food locally before (if you haven’t, drop what you are doing and go, now!) they are truly masters of spice and flavour combinations. The depth of flavour and complex layers in each dish fascinate me every time I take a bite, I am always mesmerized on how so many spices in a dish can meld and compliment one another, creating and delivering such a perfect bite! One of my main goals was to stock up on local spices in the markets, I hit the jackpot in the Kolkata wholesale market! My friend and I bought years worth of spices for around $10, my suitcase smelled of a fragrant spice bazaar everywhere I went thereafter, I’m surprised I got through the airport at all!

So back to the Red Lentil Coconut Kale Dahl I have created for all of you to try! I realize not all of you just lugged pounds of foreign spice back and you may not have an overly developed spice pantry, so I tried to keep the spice count as minimal in this recipe as I could, without sacrificing the flavour. So hopefully most of you can try and fall in love with this Red Lentil Coconut Kale Dahl recipe I have come up with! Dahl is typically eaten with a flatbread of some kind, na’an or roti are popular, as well as rice, to assist you in mopping up every last drop of succulent dahl on your plate! I had it for dinner over top of butter sautéed kale and it did not disappoint, so good. So here is the recipe and how to make it, in 30 minutes you’ll have yourself an Indian Red Lentil Coconut Kale Dahl feast!

Ingredients:

Makes 4 servings:

1 cup dried red lentils – rinsed & drained

2 tbsp coconut oil

1 tsp cumin seed or 1/2 tsp dried cumin powder

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 tsp fresh ginger or 1/2 tsp dried ginger powder

2 green cardamom pods or 1/2 tsp cardamom powder

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp red chili powder

2 cloves garlic – thinly sliced

1 bay leaf

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

1 medium yellow onion – diced

1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

2 cups vegetable stock

1 cup lite coconut milk

Large handful of chopped kale

Get Cooking: 

5 minutes prep, 30 minutes cook time.

Heat coconut oil in deep sauce pot over medium/low heat.

Add all your spices except garlic, bay leaf & salt, sauté until fragrant approximately 2 minutes. Watch these closely, spices burn easily!

Add diced onion & salt to spices, saute for 3-5 minutes, until soft.

Add thinly sliced garlic and shredded coconut to mixture, sauté for 3-5 minutes, then add rinsed lentils, mix until well combined.

Pour in your stock and coconut milk, mix thoroughly, add your bay leaf & kale, bring to a boil then decreased heat to simmer, cover with a lid and allow to simmer for 20 minutes until your lentils are soft and a thick stew has formed.

Serve with your fav vessel to mop up all that flavour! Flat bread or rice, or some sautéed spinach/kale. Keeps very well in the fridge for a few days.

I hope I have brought a little taste of India to your plates, if you love it, share it with those you love! Thanks for trying my recipes and all your support in my food & travel blogging journey. Feel free to share on Facebook or Instagram! XOXO

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Zuchinni Mint Moroccan Soup

Soup season is upon us! I am that person that could actually eat soup everyday for a week, or even month and wouldn’t get sick of all soup has to offer. Growing up I had the luxury of eating my mom’s many delicious soup varieties and I find myself craving my mom’s vegetable soup on cold days, or any day for that matter. I decided to create a soup that was inspired by a zucchini soup I slurped up in Fez, Morocco, a few months back, the insane amount of zucchini’s and mint that my garden spat up this year were also inspiration! I love traditional Moroccan spices and the Moroccan’s have a way of pairing these with mint ever so well, I thought, maybe I can try! Well, I’d say my Zucchini Mint Moroccan Soup is a perfect balance of those warm spices and a little hint of freshness.

During my recent trip to Fez, Morocco, I had gotten lost in the medina’s winding and never-ending roads, every corner looks similar and it is extremely easy to lose your sense of navigation! I had been walking and bartering all day and my stomach was grumbling, I had made up my mind to try to get back to my riad (hotel) and I would order dinner from the chef there. Well, minute after minute I was finding myself not recognizing anything and seemingly feeling more lost than ever and then I noticed a small sign pointing me towards, The Ruined Garden, it caught my eye and senses for some reason and I thought, what the heck, let’s check it out. Turned out to be one of my favorite food finds during my trip in Fez! This stunning restaurant was truly a secret garden, an old refurbished merchant’s house made into a dreamy café/restaurant which also housed a bread making school! The menu was exciting and I wanted to try it all! I started with a zucchini soup, so beautifully seasoned and creamy, I still think of it to this day. I knew in the right time I had to try to create a version of this soup, well what better time when my garden grew plenty of juicy and flavorful zucchini. This Zucchini Mint Moroccan Soup is perfect to cozy up with and pair with a thick slice of bread with fresh avocado smothered on it, YUM!
Another reason I adore soup, most of them take less than 30 minutes and you’ve got meals for a couple of days at least. With just a few ingredients and no more than 30 minutes, you’ll have a pot of Zucchini Mint Moroccan Soup to curl up with as well!

Here is what you will need to make 4 large servings:

1 tbsp olive oil or oil of your choice (I use avocado oil)

1 medium yellow onion – chopped

1-2 garlic cloves – crushed

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp coriander

3/4 tsp turmeric

1.5 tsp salt

1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper

4 medium zucchini’s (approximately 5 cups) – chopped

4 cups of water

5 fresh medium mint leaves – diced

2 tsp fresh lemon juice

Get cooking!

Heat oil in medium pot over medium heat.

Add chopped onions and garlic, stir frequently, saute/sweat for approximately 5 minutes.

Add all your spices to the bottom of the pot and let them heat up, 2 minutes until fragrant.

Add your chopped zucchini and mint, stir well, allow this mixture to cook for 5 minutes, stirring a few times.

Add your water, bring to a boil and simmer with the lid on for 10 minutes.

If you have a hand-held soup blender, perfect, blend up your soup in the pot until creamy. If you don’t (which I do not), ladle your soup carefully into your blender (it’s hot, be careful!) and blend on high until creamy, then pour back into your pot.

Add your fresh lemon juice, any needed salt & pepper, toast of that bread and mop that soup up!


Hope you all love my Moroccan Inspired Zucchini Mint Soup, let me know what you think when you make it! Tag me on Instagram of Facebook, I’d love to hear from you, xoxo!

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Moroccan Chicken Tagine with Spiced Apricots & Prunes

I’ve been waiting for a day off work to finally get a moment to finalize and post this unreal Moroccan Chicken Tagine with Spiced Apricots & Prunes recipe, well the day has finally arrived and I’m going to spoil you with this recipe! If you acquainted yourself with my last post, (sorry it was long, I had so much to rant about!), you’ll know I took a cooking class while in Fes, Morocco, and I was fortunate enough to inherit the chef’s passed down recipes from generations in her family. We created a heavenly Chicken Tagine recipe, I am gong to keep it fairly raw and original to its form, with only a few tweaks of my own, because it’s just so damn tasty and it would be a sin to fool around with the flavors too much. Oh and don’t you worry, you don’t need a tagine to make this masterpiece, I’ll tell you how to make it with an everyday french oven/slow cooker!

I have had a lot of people ask me what a tagine is, a tagine is a traditional Moroccan two piece clay pot in which most Moroccan dishes are made and served in, the peaked top allows for rising steam to stay within the pot while cooking, this makes the dishes tender and full of flavor. I did haul one back home from Morocco, I couldn’t leave without one, not this time around! I’m guessing a tagine wasn’t on your to buy list for kitchen pots… so I’ve tested this recipe in my french oven as well as my slow cooker and both turned out magnificent, so don’t panic, you’re not missing out if you don’t have a tagine, you’ll get full tenderness and flavor with a good ol french oven or slow cooker, even a pressure cooker!

When you think of Moroccan food, you think of heavily spiced, fragrant, rich and protein heavy foods, but I was taken aback during my cooking class in Morocco on the simplicity of the spices used and letting the simple flavors meld together to make one scrumptious dish in the end. Let the ingredients do the work and shine on your plate in this recipe, sometimes less is better! With only a few spices, fresh chicken, savory onion and those delicious dried apricots & prunes infused with a little cinnamon, you’ll be making this over and over because it’s irresistible. I’ve made this for M and I at least four times since getting back, we never get sick of it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So with this Moroccan Chicken Tagine recipe, I bought an organic fresh whole chicken and cut it into its varied pieces, I love white meat and M loves dark meat, a perfect blend of both! Now this spice blend for the chicken does call for a lot of cilantro, I know cilantro is an acquired taste for many but I am telling you now, with the slow cooking and blend of other spices, it does not have that earthy cilantro taste in the end! My husband hates cilantro and he scarfed down the whole dish before I could even tell him it was a cilantro based spice mix! If you are adamant on wanting to try this recipe (why wouldn’t you, straight from the medinas of Fes!) but dislike cilantro that much, use parsley, but just give the original cilantro spice blend a try! Typically this dish is eaten with a giant piece of wood fired oven bread which is seen and baked all over morocco and the smell of freshly baked bread wafts up your nose everywhere you turn, but as I don’t eat gluten, I have tried this recipe with brown rice, chickpea pita, steamed kale and once I even threw in carrots and butternut squash into the recipe which was equally as delicious and I got my serving of veggies as well!

Alright let’s get cooking, the recipes comes together in just minutes, the secret to the layers of sophisticated flavors and tender fall off the bone chicken is from the length of the cooking time, I know we all don’t have time to wait two hours for dinner, but I promise you, this is worth the time if you get a moment on the weekend or have everything ready in the pot the night before and throw it in the oven/slow cooker to cook while you settle down after a long day!

Finally, here is the recipe I’ve been wanting to share since I got back!

Ingredients: 

1 fresh organic chicken – your favorite cuts of chicken, no skin (I use a whole chicken cut into pieces)

1 large red onion – peeled and thinly sliced

1 heaping cup of cilantro – finely diced

8 cloves of garlic – finely diced/crushed

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp dried ginger

2 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

3/4 tsp cinnamon – divided

1/3 cup water

10 dried apricots

10 dried prunes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Instructions:

Heat oven to 315 degrees Fahrenheit.

In your french oven add your sliced red onion and fill with enough water to just barely cover the onions, place on high heat and boil for 10 minutes while you are prepping the rest of your dish.

In a large bowl add your finely diced cilantro, the rest of your spices, oil, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1/3 cup of water, mix well until mixed thoroughly. add chicken pieces to your marinade and toss in marinade until well covered.

Take your onion & water mixture off the heat, half of your water should be left, add your marinated chicken and the spice marinade to the onions and water, cover with a lid and cook for 2 hours. Let the aroma fill your house!

If you are using a slow cooker, add all your raw onions to the pot, add 1 cup of water, add marinated chicken and spice marinade and slow cook on low for 4-5 hours.

When you have 30 minutes left on the chicken, add your apricots and prunes to a small pot with 1.5 cups of water, a pinch of salt and 1/4 tsp cinnamon, bring to a boil and simmer until most of the water has been absorbed and the apricots and prunes are re-hydrated and slightly caramelised.

Top your delicious chicken with the apricots and prunes, serve with your choice of side, salad, mop up the sauce with bread, or steamed veggies!

 

You’ll be craving this recipe all the time, it’s amazing and coming straight from the tables of Moroccans to your home! I hope you guys love this recipe as much and we do, let me know what you think! Thanks as always for following and reading along, I love sharing the amazing food our worldly cultures have to offer as much as the Moroccans love sharing their food with others! XOXO

A Moroccan Proverb: Amrek ma tkoul ndemt dima koul talemt. “Never say I regret, always say I learned.”

 

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The Food of Fes – Smokey Aubergine & Pepper Salad

Food is the center of all in Morocco, food is love, it’s family, it’s gathering, it is celebrated and artfully prepared. Flavors are melded together to create masterpieces and dishes are unveiled before your eyes in those stunning tagines. Food is a way of life. I set out to learn more and share with you, The Food of Fes and a Smokey Aubergine & Pepper Salad recipe! I signed up for a cooking class in Fes which was the highlight of my stay and highly recommended! I will share with you the knowledge I obtained during the class, as well as some local recipes and a couple of my favorite spots to grab a meal where you won’t be disappointed! I will continue to share over the next few weeks the many types of Moroccan meals I tried, recipes with my twist of course! I really can’t wait to share these with you guys and I know I need to get on it because you guys keep asking for them!

I knew I wanted to do a cooking class prior to getting there and I researched endlessly on where to take the class, they are offered quite readily throughout Fes, all with pretty good reviews. I stumbled upon raving review of a restaurant called Café Clock, located in the medina. The reviews across the board were phenomenal for the restaurant food as well as the cooking class. I decided before I booked I would try the food out, what better way to know what you’re getting yourself into than to test it out. Well, I was blown away by my meal of cous cous chicken and vegetables with caramelized onions and raisins so beautifully draped over the perfectly cooked piece of chicken, after my meal I marched downstairs and booked the class for a day later (these classes are popular and in high season you have to book much further in advance!) Not only was the food crazy good but the restaurant is a tantalizing 4 leveled restaurant with patios strewn across levels and views over the medina. I sat in the sun with a smile on my face as I cleared my plate.

The other memorable meal I had at, The Ruined Garden, another restaurant lost in the maze of the medina, it was worth searching for! This is a modernized tapas style Moroccan food concept of  fresh and local ingredients landing on your table that hit your taste buds in every direction. When I read tapas style, I jumped to the get 2-3 plates that should be small in size “tapas”, should have known, they were Moroccan sized tapas and it kept me full for a day and half! I ordered a bowl of zucchini soup, the rice and mixed pepper salad as well as the vegetable tagine. The soup was thick, creamy and a balance of spices that were so flavorsome but yet highlighted the zucchini perfectly. The salad almost reminded me of a paella, a little bit smokey and so yummy, then came the grand entrance of the tagine, slowly braised vegetables that were perfection. The setting here is a relaxing garden with laced white chairs and quirky Moroccan pieces. I decided to sit in the back of the restaurant cozied up beside the wood burning fireplace, you can easily spend 2 hours here without even knowing it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You want me to get on to the recipes… I know! I’ll be sharing many with you over the next few weeks as well as the tips and tricks on the Moroccan cuisine that I picked up!

My cooking class started at 1000 and I had an enthusiastic couple from California join me which was a blast! We started our day by taking our wicker shopping basket into the medina to start picking out our fresh ingredients and our chef Souad to guide the way and educate us on the food in Morocco and shopping etiquette! We weaved through the crowds, the shopping banter, wheelbarrow whizzing past us and we met an array of smells at every turn. Every shop unique and specializing in a certain product, from fresh local fruits and vegetables, to butchers, chicken shops, spice vendors, dates and prunes, beauty supplies…. The list goes on, but what was so incredible was they were all selling products local to Morocco, every last item! With a perfect climate year round and soil rich in nutrients they are able to grow everything they need, sustainable and local products all year round!


 

 

 

 

 

 

We made our way to the local bread shop where loaves were rising and a variety of breads were available all while right next door a sheep’s head was steaming in a giant pot… how intriguing. Next stop, the chicken coup. A sense of guilt overcame me as I stared into the little guys eyes I have to say, but this is the circle of life and that chicken was going to nourish our bodies! Chicken doesn’t get any fresher then this, in 2 hours it would be on my plate. Now that’s farm to table! We then learnt about some of the vegetables indigenous to Morocco that I’d never heard of and also watched some Argan oil being freshly pressed!

Argan Nuts

Argan Nut Casings After Being Pressed – The Argan Oil in The Bottle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After shopping we headed back to the restaurant to our own private gorgeous kitchen in which we had chosen 3 dishes to prepare! Our 3 course meal began with an aubergine pepper salad, our main course was a chicken tagine with prunes and apricots and we ended with a delicate orange blossom coconut macaroon! Souad went over every detail of the cooking process as well as how she creates certain flavors, as well as some tricks I had never thought of! Let’s start cooking! Below I will share our first recipe we created and a step by step guide, everything was AMAZING! Stay tuned for more Moroccan recipes coming your way that I’m just perfecting!

The Wonderful Chef and I

Now, I want to start you all with a recipe that I am keeping pretty untouched that I acquired during my cooking class! It is such a healthy and flavor bursting salad that I ate many times in a variety of forms. It’s great if you love eggplant and you just don’t know what to do with it! Here is the recipe for you all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Smokey Aubergine Mixed Pepper Salad:

Ingredients:

– 1 large eggplant

– 2 large peppers (red/orange)

– 1 large handful cilantro – diced (if you don’t like cilantro, I made it with parsley and just as good!)

– 1 small clove of garlic – finely dice

– 1 tsp olive oil

– half a lemon juiced

– 1 tbsp rice vinegar

– 1 tsp cumin

– 1 tsp paprika (I use smokey paprika)

– 1/2 tsp chili powder

– pinch of salt & pepper to taste

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Make:

– Place peppers & eggplant over open gas stove flame or in your oven under high broil, watching closely, when skin starts to get charred well, flip until all sides of vegetables are well charred and remove. Place peppers in a sealed plastic bag to sweat, set eggplant aside.

– While your peppers & eggplant are roasting, chop up your cilantro and garlic, add to a medium bowl with the rest of your spices.

– Once your peppers have sweat in the bag for 5-10 minutes, pull out and with a spoon scrape the charred skin of the pepper, leaving some for that smokey taste! Peel your eggplant as well, leaving some charred skin.

– Chop your peppers & eggplant into bite sized pieces, add to your bowl and add lemon juice & vinegar, mix well and refrigerate until chilled, this salad can also be eaten as a warm side dish which is yummy on rice!

There you have it! Your first Moroccan inspired recipe, I know you will love it, the smokey char comes through and the sweet peppers and earthy eggplant are so delicious! I will be posting a chicken tagine recipe next, with a little o my twist on ingredients, I can’t wait to share! Thanks for reading and hope everyone’s week is amazing! XOXO

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Spiced Cod on a Warm Leek, Mushroom & French Lentil Salad

Well September is here and I feel like I have permission to slowly return to my daily routine after an overly busy summer filled with change, a new home, numerous renovations, new adjustments, sporadic road trips, the company of tremendous friends, summer events, festivals and a lovely end of August vacation exploring Canada’s West coast. I’ve always found it pressing to have to let go of summer months and face another Canadian winter, but I’m learning to embrace what each season brings, as it is inevitable! With inspiration from the West Coast, a change in season’s, that brisk bite to the air in the evenings and a longing for the savory comfort foods that come with fall, I have created a dish that envelopes this all, Spiced Cod on a Warm Leek Mushroom & French Lentil Salad for my next recipe!

My husband and I spent over a couple of weeks via road trip with the good ol’ Flagstaff tent trailer not far behind, travelling and delving into the culture, food, seasonal produce, hiking and golfing scenes that British Columbia has to offer. We often try to stay off the beaten path and get recommendations from the locals on where we can find prime food, hiking, secret spots etc. I mean, sometimes you just have to do the touristy thing because it’s famous for a reason… but many times there is so much more to be found and treasured. Our countries beauty never ceases to amaze me and now more than ever I can appreciate the diversity and uniqueness of the bountiful produce Canada provides. I wanted my next recipe to be a representation of Canadian grown produce and I tried to captivate the beautiful seasonally available fresh picked mushrooms, fresh and wild caught cod as well as Canadian grown lentils. It all led to a healthy, earthy and nature inspired recipe that I know you guys will adore to celebrate the summer memories we created and to open our arms and minds to a hopefully warm and bright fall.

The Rainforest Loop outside of Tofino.

I’ve wanted to create a lentil recipe for quite some time now, than summer hit and the lentil inspiration fell off my radar! Then while hiking through the lush and green temperate rain forests on the West Coast Trail, my craving was re-ignited, after many kilometers of coastal forest and the salty ocean breeze, I was suddenly longing a nutritious, earthy, protein packed meal and I thought of lentils and the main fish catch at this time in and around Tofino and Ucluelet is white, flaky Cod. Then I was educated about the competitive and bountiful mushroom foraging scene near Tofino, chanterelle mushroom season (aka the white gold rush) starts in mid August, so I thought, why not throw some mushrooms in the mix as well, who doesn’t love mushrooms! I was able to get my hands on some chanterelle mushrooms while there for a pretty penny (I wasn’t brave enough to pick my own as apparently it is quite the competitive and territorial sport), but I wasn’t able to find them here in Calgary, so I went with lovely oyster and brown cremini mushrooms instead for this recipe.

The Lighthouse Trail in Ucluelet.

Lentils are particularly impressive you guys, so packed with protein that they count as a meat alternative on the Canada food guide! I chose French Lentils for this recipe because they are, what I think, the gold standard of lentils, they have a unique speckling in colour and they absorb flavor so well, they are a little peppery with an earthy flavour. I found them at Planet Organic in the Bulk section, for I believe under 50 cents/100 gram. I also love that they are locally sourced, did you know Canada is now the world’s leader in lentil export to the global marketplace, 99% grown in Saskatchewan and that 1% in Alberta, woohoo! They are truly complimented by the garlic, Dijon and sautéed leeks, it’s so delicious!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Spiced Cod on a Warm Leek, Mushroom & French Lentil Salad is ready in under 30 minutes, it’s hearty, filling, packed with protein, classic flavors and it’s great re-heated for lunch or dinner. You can make it a vegetarian dish by omitting the fish or swap out your favorite protein like chicken, it’s so versatile. Now let’s get to cooking this end of summer and intro to fall dish!

Makes 4 servings:

Ingredients:

2 cups dried French Lentils

4 pieces of fresh wild Cod – rinsed

1/2 tbsp avocado oil (or oil of choice)

2 cloves garlic – minced

1.5 large leek (white part only) – finely sliced (approx. 1 cup)

2.5 tbsp. fresh chopped thyme (or 1 tbsp. dried)

2tsp paprika

1.5 tsp salt

1/2 tsp coarse ground black pepper

1 cup cremini brown mushrooms – sliced

1 cup oyster mushrooms – chopped

3 tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice

3tbsp. seedy Dijon mustard

1/2 cup vegetable stock

For the fish (per fish fillet)

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp caraway seeds

course ground pepper to taste

Now, how to cook lentils, I personally soak my lentils prior to cooking, but it isn’t necessary. I find that when I soak them beforehand they cook quicker and I like to soak them in water with apple cider vinegar to help break down the starches, which then aids our bodies in digesting the lentils when cooked, it’s totally up to you whether you want to give these bad boys a soak beforehand. I soaked them for no longer than 8 hours which decreases the cooking time quite a bit. But again, this is not necessary. After the soak, I rinse them well and add them to a pot with salted water (3 cups of water to 1 cup of lentils) & 3 whole sprigs of thyme, let it come to a full boil then turn down the heat so a calm boil remains and cook for 20-25 minutes or until your desired consistency is met.

While you are cooking your lentils, in a large sauté pan add your leeks to heated oil, garlic, fresh thyme, paprika, salt & pepper and sauté over medium heat for approximately 8-10 minutes until the leeks soften, then add your chopped mushrooms, sauté another 5-8 minutes until your mushrooms begin to soften. Add the Dijon mustard and lemon juice, mix well, then add the vegetable stock and allow it to simmer and develop the flavours. Your lentils should be done, strain and add them to your mushroom/leek mix, mix in well.

Take your cod and sprinkle with salt, pepper, paprika and caraway seeds, make room in your pan and add your cod directly onto the heated pan over medium heat, cook cod for about 4-5 minutes per side or until opaque and flaking. You can cook your cod in a separate pan if you desire, but I’m all about less dishes… remove your cooked cod then dish out desired amount of warm lentil salad into a bowl and top off with cod! There you have it, your own Spiced Cod on a Warm Leek, Mushroom & French Lentil Salad! I hope everyone’s post Long Weekend and intro into a new routine has been lovely, let me know what you think of this recipe! XOXO

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Two In One – Jicama Mexican Slaw & Shrimp Tacos!

Hola on this gorgeous day! You guys, all these recipes keep coming to me after experiencing Mexican cuisine and overwhelming my head (and grocery bill!). I’ve tried and tested quite a few of my recipe creations and this two in one idea of Jicama Mexican slaw turned into shrimp tacos were a home run, I must share with you this deliciousness and bring to your home some Mehicooo influence! A creation fitting for Taco Tuesday I’d say, a fresh Mexican Jicama Mango Slaw with a light Sweet Chili Lime Dressing, which makes for an impeccable base for a darn tasty Shrimp Taco with Jicama Mango Chili Lime Slaw. I love two in one, versatile dishes so darn much, creates two dishes for the week in one preparation, packs well for lunches and a perfect vibrant and light dish for all those upcoming gatherings and BBQ’s!

While in Mexico, every meal, buffet, market, side street served up Jicama (pronounced hee-cama), it is a Mexican root vegetable native to Mexico, a large light brown bulb, after one bite, I couldn’t believe I had been walking past this in the grocery store all my life. Jicama is similar to a turnip of sorts but has a much sweeter flavor, comparable to a mild apple, it has a tough peel which needs to be removed and a gorgeous crisp white flesh. It seriously is such a fresh and tasty snack, usually served simply, sliced into sticks with a dusting of salt, chili powder and a squeeze of lime juice, I had a plate a day! You can find it in almost any grocery store! I love slaws of any variety and had a light bulb moment, Jicama would make a far better slaw base than boring cabbage! Keeping the integrity of the Mexican simplicity in flavors, I brought together Jicama, ripe juicy mango, crisp red pepper, fresh cucumber, sweet carrots and a handful of fragrant cilantro for the slaw, delicious! The fresh Sweet Chili Lime dressing is a simple marinade of lime juice, chili powder, honey, garlic, salt, pepper, avocado oil and diced jalapeno! This Mexican Jicama Mango Slaw is a breeze to make, serve as a side, top with your favorite protein or enjoy my favorite way… shrimp TACO style!

Well, my lovely, spunky spin teacher always reminds me of Taco Tuesdays on Tuesdays and uses it (yells at us) as inspiration to get through a sweaty class… I’ve adapted naturally to this sort of persuasion through food (healthy food!) while dying on the bike. So let’s honor Taco Tuesday and treat ourselves to these well deserved, delicious, Shrimp Tacos with Jicama Mango Chili Lime Slaw. I was chowing down on the slaw one night and then BBQ’ed a skewer of Chili Lime Shrimp and threw it on top, then it dawned on me, why not have fun with my food and create a shrimp taco, lightened up with lettuce as the boat instead of tortilla, how Mexican of me… 🙂 So, I had some gorgeous butter leaf lettuce waiting to be filled with Jicama Mango Slaw, succulent shrimp and topped off with my favorites, avocado, jalapeno, cilantro and red onion. That’s the beauty of tacos, you get to play around with toppings and flavors to create your perfect little taco, mmmm. So simple yet looks like a Mexican fiesta on a plate! All in one preparation, make the slaw as well as extra Sweet Chili Lime Dressing to marinade your shrimp in, dinner under 30 minutes is served!

I hope I’ve inspired you and diversified your kitchen recipes on this Taco Tuesday! Thank you for everyone’s ongoing, incredible support of my creations and the feedback I receive everyday is invaluable. SO, why not make some shrimp tacos for you and the fam tonight! Also, a FYI, my husbands believes that food from the sea is not for him, I made these tacos for him the exact same way but added steak strips with the same Sweet Chili Lime marinade, he said it “was better than Mexico”! Go get your taco on! XOXO

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Mexican Style Chimichurri Grilled Shrimp

Long weekends rock, especially May Long here in Canada, camping commences, spring is in full bloom, and grills are a blazin’! Let’s get grilling my Mexican Style Chimichurri Grilled Shrimp this long weekend, it’s undeniably mouth-watering and freshly inspired by my recent jaunt in cuisine cultivated Mexico! I was exhilarated by Mexico’s vibrant food scene and distinct flavors, the unique market’s, fresh and wholesome produce, beautiful seafood, indigenous spices and ingredients. These items ignited a need to create a sauce that embodied their flavor culture through my eyes!

Everyday, even if it was dining at the resort’s buffet or meandering the streets and restaurants of Mexico and its island’s, I was exposed to their vastness of gorgeous produce as well as perfectly balanced and layered bold spice profiles. It quickly became apparent that seafood is abundant and fresh on the coasts, staples such as corn, beans, rice, avocados, tomatoes, squash and melt in your mouth tropical fruit was plentiful! The variety and multitude of preparation in chilies were inventive and the countless palatable spices had my taste buds dancing with every bite. For me the combination of fresh herbs and avocado over seafood was a combination I couldn’t get enough of, I had to create a sauce that embodied it all!

The concept of a Chimichurri sauce with a Mexican make over was exactly how I wanted to showcase the vibrant and earthy Mexican food culture in a dish. I mean who doesn’t love sauces! Chimichurri is traditionally an Argentinian sauce that pairs well with meats, I decided to amp it up with some Mexican flair.  This Mexican Style Chimichurri sauce is packed with fresh herbs, tangy acids, creamy avocados, spicy jalapeno, it truly compliments pretty much everything you smother it on… trust me, I explored it on many ingredients! From fresh seafood, to vegetables, chicken and steak, this sauce offers a real punch to anything you try it on. I have a major love affair with succulent, sweet shrimp (ask those that watched me mow down on shrimp in Mexico :)) and thought this bold and spicy sauce would pair beautifully well with shrimp, yep, sure did!

You guys, I have literally been basting all my meals in this Mexican Style Chimichurri, the outstanding part of this recipe is it takes no time at all to whip up, it keeps so well in an air tight container and flavors are even more elevated after a few days! It has been keeping my Mexican flavors and cuisine withdrawal symptoms under control I’d say, not to mention makes for a damn tasty and quick meal every time. I simply marinade anything I’m craving (of recent, Mexican Chimichurri eggplant and shrimp was my choice for dinner) in this mucho Mexican Chimichurri and the grill also enhances those flavors, lending a smokey hue!

I hope I delivered a little bit of Mexico to your May long weekend grilling plans, the perfect sauce to pack in that camping cooler! Happy May Long everyone, stay safe and pop those delicious Mexican Style Chimichurri Grilled Shrimp in your mouth! Let me know what you think of the recipe and showcase your creations by tagging your photos on Instagram @apinchofnurse. Watch for a soon to come travel blog post on my recommendations and ventures through Isla Mujeres, Mexico!

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