food amongst family and friends

Fresh Spring Rolls and Peanut Dipping Sauce March 7, 2013

Filed under: Appetizers,Mains,Quick and easy,Thrifty,Vegetarian — blisteringlydrunk @ 10:34 pm
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My weeknight meal requirement checklist looks something like this: healthy, delicious, packed with veggies, quick to throw together, cheap enough to make often. I give bonous points to recipes that are vegetarian or feel super treaty. For me, this meal checks off all the requirements while getting bonous points for being both meat-free AND treaty.

I have made these spring rolls in the past, but I’ve always treated them as a side dish and I was never crazy about the idea of packing them full of noodles. This time, I left out the noodles, loaded them with my favourite carrots and cukes from the farmer’s market and served them with what is now my go-to peanut sauce. (Seriously, the sauce is incredible. At first bite, I thought it was okay. As I continued to eat, I fell more and more in love with it. The red curry paste gives it a nice warmth while the toasted peanuts and caramelized sugar make it rich and complex. I want to eat some right now…) The result is a light and crunchy spring roll with a rich, filling, addictive dip.

Four to five rolls make a large and satisfying meal, or you could serve these as an appetizer with this tasty treat and trick your family into thinking you ordered take out. Hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Spring Rolls Close UpFresh Spring RollsPeanut Sauce, adapted from Fine Cooking:
yeilds 1.5 cups, or roughly 6 servings

1 T peanut oil
1 T Thai red curry paste (this is where all the heat comes from, so be aware of how spicy your paste is)
1/2 cup unsalted peanuts, finely ground in a food processor
2 T packed light brown sugar (palm sugar could be used here, but go with the granulated variety, not the solid variety)
1 1/2 cups light coconut milk
1 1/2 cups reduced sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
3 T fresh lime juice
2 T hoisin sauce
1 1/2 T fish sauce
8 fresh basil leaves, minced

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the curry paste, stirring until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the peanuts and stir until they’re just a shade darker, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the sugar and continue to stir and cook until melted and lightly caramelized, about 2 minutes. Add the coconut milk, broth, lime juice, hoisin and fish sauce. Whisk until smooth and bring to a simmer. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened and reduced to about 1-1/2 cups. This will take roughly 45 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat, stir in the basil, and cool to room temperature.

Fresh Spring Rolls:
yeilds 10 medium spring rolls

4-5 small cucumbers, julienne
4-5 medium carrots, julienne
1/2 an avodaco, sliced
handful fresh basil
10 rice paper wrappers
green or red leaf lettuce (optional)
bean sprouts (optional)
fresh mint (optional)
shredded chicken or pork (optional)

Get a wide, shallow bowl filled halfway with warm water. Setup a work space with a cutting board,   all your prepped ingredients, the bowl of water, a plate to hold the spring rolls and a damp paper towel to cover the finished spring rolls.

Dip one rice paper in the water for 15-30 seconds until soft and pliable, then place it on your cutting board. On the top 1/3 of the wrapper, place carrots and cucumber (about 1/4 cup total), then add a slice of avocado, a big basil leaf and any other ingredients you are using. Tuck the top of the wrapper tightly over the filling, then roll away, folding in the sides about halfway. (For more thorough instructions, look here.) Place the finished spring roll on your plate and cover with the damp paper towel. Repeat with remaining rice paper wrappers.

Serve 5 rolls with 1/4 cup of the sauce. Dip and enjoy!


Slow Roasted Tomatoes October 1, 2012

More idea than recipe, I have seen several mentions of this in magazines and on blogs, so when I found myself with an abundance of grape sized tomatoes from the garden I thought I would give this a shot. So far I have had them as the base of some really awesome pita/english muffin pizzas, as a side with a cheese board/charcuterie board, and just as a snack on baguette. I can’t wait to toss them with some fresh pasta and parmesan though.


Heat your oven to 300 and slice in half enough grape tomatoes to fill a 9×13 glass baking dish. Toss tomatoes with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and arrange cut side up, slightly overlapping. Bake for 2 hours. Let cool and freeze in ziploc bags to have on handy for however you choose to eat them.





Chicken Meatballs + Veggie Sauce + Homemade Spelt Spaghetti = Dinner Bliss September 20, 2012

I love it when my life manages to work out in such a way that I get to call this a Tuesday night dinner. Last week a few of us got together for an evening of cooking in which we made (possibly) thousands of meatballs, a vat full of pasta sauce and some marinated chickens that should be coming soon to a blog near you. A freezer full of that and a strangely lucid head the night before that inspired me to make the pasta dough before I went to bed and, Voila!, homemade spaghetti and meatballs on a school night. Super Mom Awards, here I come. The chicken meatball recipe comes from Gourmet Everyday (big surprise), which Katie also found on Smitten Kitchen. The sauce is a Jamie Oliver Food Revolution one found on which is full of veggies that your family will never know about, but, more importantly, it tastes lovely, especially over meatballs (though I would add a little more salt than he says – it brings out the tomatoey flavour more). And what meatballs! So that’s the recipe you are getting here; try them in a sauce, make them big and have them with a salad, make them little and serve them as an appetizer with a roasted grape tomato skewered to the top, do what you will, but try them for sure!

Chicken Meatballs

3 slices Italian bread, torn up without crusts

1/3 cup milk

3 oz pancetta or bacon, finely chopped

1 small onion, finely chopped (we used the food processor for this and the garlic)

1 small garlic clove, finely chopped

2 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 large egg

1 lb ground chicken or turkey

3 Tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1. Soak bread in milk in a small bowl until softened, about 4 minutes, then squeeze bread to remove excess milk and place in a large mixing bowl.

2. Cook pancetta, onion, and garlic with salt and pepper in a large skillet over medium heat until onion is softened, about 6 minutes.

3. Add pancetta mixture, chicken/turkey, parsley, and a lightly beaten egg to the bread and stir to combine. Divide into meatballs; ours made about 16-18 per batch and were pretty good sized meatballs for having with pasta, but if you want these on their own, 12 meatballs would probably be about right.

4. Bake in 400 oven for 15-20 minutes (depending on size) or until just cooked through. Freeze for later, or serve immediately.




Peanut-Apricot Chicken Skewers: Summer Comfort Food August 22, 2012

Filed under: Appetizers,Chicken,Mains,Quick and easy — blisteringlydrunk @ 9:12 pm
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Peanut butter, coconut milk, yogurt, jalapeno, peanuts, apricots, chicken thighs. What more do you need to know? Make this lovely little meal while apricots are at their prime. Go! Now! Buy some apricots! And don’t forget to grease the grill.


PS – Not only is this crazy delicious, it’s super easy to boot. If you get the chicken in the marinade the evening before, it’s quick enough to make on a week night.
PPS – We had this with my favourite sweet potatoes and a corn and avocado salad. It would also be nice served over rice.
PPPS – I borrowed the recipe from Bon Appetit and made some minor tweaks.

1 cup light coconut milk
1/3 cup 0% Greek yogurt
1/3 cup natural peanut butter
juice from 2 limes
1 T palm sugar or brown sugar
3 garlic cloves
1 t kosher salt
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 medium jalapeño, with seeds if you like it spicy (go with less if you have kids)
1-1.5 lb skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into thirds
12 ripe apricots, pitted and halved
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup unsalted peanuts, lightly toasted and chopped

1. Blend coconut milk through salt in food processor until smooth. Add cilantro and jalapeno and pulse to combine.

2. Set aside 1 cup of marinade – cover and refridgerate.

3. Add remaining marinade to a large ziplock with the chicken pieces. Let sit a couple hours or overnight. Meanwhile, soak 30 wooden skewers in water.

4. Heat barbecue to medium-high. Before it gets too hot, grease it up really well.

5. Hold 2 skewers parallel to each other and about an inch apart. Thread onto the skewers a piece of chicken, an apricot half, a piece of chicken and another apricot half. Repeat until all the chicken is used.

6. Brush apricots with marinade, then put skewers on the grill for 3-4 minutes a side, leaving for an additional 2 minutes if needed.

7. Serve over rice or sweet potatoes, drizzle with the sauce you had set aside and sprinkle with toasted peanuts.


Sliders in gougeres with kalamata olive aioli July 17, 2012

Filed under: Appetizers,Beef,Make Ahead,Sauces — blisteringlydrunk @ 4:19 pm
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This is ones of those things that sounds fancy, looks fancy and tastes amazing, but is actually quite simple. Not to mention that it pleased everyone from my 3 year old, to my foodie sister (and more importantly, me). We actually had these at my husband’s Christmas party way back at the end of November last year and I have been meaning to make them ever since. It was a fantastic, cook your own Christmas dinner party at the Cookbook Company here in Calgary and they sent  home the recipes afterwards. I was in charge of a lot of egg whites for the souffles and didn’t actually get to see how this was done, so I had some strangely shaped gougeres at the end of it, but they tasted fantastic, so all’s well that ends well. Thank you Chef Craig Westhaver for the wonderful recipe!


1/2 cup unsalted butter

1 cup cold water

1 cup flour

salt and red pepper flakes to taste

1/2 tsp cumin seed

4 eggs

1 cup crumbled blue cheese

In a medium sauce pan, bring water and butter to a boil. Once all the butter is melted in, add the flour, salt, red pepper flakes (a dash or two), and cumin seeds. Stir together and continue to cook over medium heat until a ball forms and pulls smoothly from the walls of the pot. For me this happened pretty much by the time everything was combined. Remove from heat and let stand for 5-10 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing until fully incorporated between each addition. Stir in the cheese. Preheat oven to 400 and line two cookie sheets with parchment. Pipe or spoon onto parchment into the size (keeping in mind how big you want your sliders to be) and shape you want; they will puff up a little, but not a ton, so pile the dough up a bit or you will end up with very flat gourgeres like me. Bake for about 20 minutes without ever opening the oven door. They are done when crisp on the outside but still soft in the middle. This should make about 2  to 2 1/2 dozen. I made mine the day before, kept them in a plastic bag and then just popped them back in a hot oven for 3 minutes to crisp them back up before serving; worked like a charm.


2 lbs lean ground beef

1 egg

2 Tbsp bread crumbs

2 cloves garlic, minced

salt and pepper to taste

Mix everything together using just the ends of your fingertips, taking care not to squish or squeeze the meat, this will keep it very tender. I made 2 oz patties, which was actually a little too big, I think next time I will aim for 1 to 1 1/2 oz patties, which should make about 22 to 25 sliders. I cooked mine on a hot grill for about 3 minutes a side, which was perfect. Again, I made the patties the day before and then cooked them just prior to serving. I have also frozen some raw, which came out perfectly if you were wanting to get this step done well in advance.

Olive Aioli

1 egg yolk

1 Tbsp Dijon mustard

1/2 lemon, juiced

4-6 cloves garlic, pureed (I did this with the parsley in the food processor, then added to olives at the end until finely chopped)

2 Tbsp minced parsely

1/2 cup kalamata olives, finely chopped

1/2 cup olive oil

red pepper flakes and salt to taste

1 – 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar (optional, taste first as lemon may be enough)

In a non-reactive bowl. whisk together egg, mustard and lemon juice. Then, slowly, in a long, thin stream add in the olive oil while vigorously whisking to emulsify. Add the remaining ingredients, tasting and adjusting salt, vinegar and red pepper flakes at the end. Again, I made this the day before.
To serve, halve the gougeres, add a Tbsp or so of aioli to the bottom, followed by a slider, top with the top of the gourgere. With everything done the day before, the whole platter of these came together in about 15-20 minutes, including cooking the sliders.








Vegetarian Gyoza April 16, 2012

Filed under: Appetizers,Sides,Thrifty,Vegetarian — blisteringlydrunk @ 10:36 pm
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I love gyoza. I will admit that my love affair began in high school in a non-glamourous fashion, chowing down on the pork pot stickers (aka, gyoza) my dad would bring home from every Costco shopping trip, without fail. I now order gyoza at every opportunity. It’s kind of like pizza – even when it’s bad, it’s good.

This recipe uses quinoa instead of pork and it’s much easier and quicker than I anticipated. I  followed the recipe exactly, but I’m going to write it out with the adjustments I’ll make next time. Enjoy!


yields 30 dumplings

1 C cooked quinoa
1 C boiled cabbage, minced
2 boiled carrots, minced (about 1 C)
3 fresh shitakes, minced
1.5 T minced ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 green onions, minced
2-3 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
2-3 tsp mirin (sweet japanese cooking wine)
1/4 t ground white pepper
salt to taste

1 egg
1 pack gyoza wrappers or small wonton wrappers (the round ones are ideal)

dipping sauce
2 Tbs soy sauce
2 Tbs rice vinegar
1/4 tsp chili oil (or dried chili flakes mixed with a little oil)

1. Put the quinoa on to cook; bring a pot of water to boil, then add a chunk of cabbage and carrots and boil for 10 minutes. Mince the cabbage and carrot – heap the cabbage onto 3 layers of paper towel and squeeze out the water.

2. Mix the quinoa through pepper in a medium bowl. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Mix in the egg.

3. Bust out the gyoza wrappers. Hold one wrapper in your left hand and plop a spoonful of filling into the centre. Dip your finger in water and wet the whole outer edge of the wrapper, then fold the wrapper in half and pinch the edges together. If you want to be fancy,  you can make pleats as you go. It’s quite similar to folding a perogy.

4. Heat 1 t canola oil in a big pan. Once the oil is hot, lay in the dumplings flat-side down.  Give them enough space that they’re not touching. Let them fry 1 minute, then quickly throw in 2 T water and cover with a lid immediately. Let sit 4 minutes, remove the lid and let fry another minute. Repeat until all the dumplings are cooked.

5. Mix up your dipping sauce and serve.


Edamame Hummus – Extra Green for St Patrick’s Day March 12, 2012

I’ve been meaning to try my hand at this recipe ever since Katie brought a big bowl over for Christmas (she found the recipe here), so when I had some last minute company for the weekend I sent Katie an emergency recipe request and made myself a big batch of this. And I do mean big; this makes a lot, however, I discovered that it freezes quite well, and it was nice to have in the freezer for the next round of entertaining. The mint and cilantro compliment each other beautifully here, so even if you are cilantro shy (I am), make sure to give it a chance in this. I can almost guarantee that this recipe will surprise you with it’s deceptively simple deliciousness, so give it a whirl while green is en vogue!

18 oz frozen shelled edamame (this was one bag for me)

18 oz frozen baby sweet peas

1/2 cup lemon juice

2 Tbsp minced fresh garlic (about 4 big cloves)

1 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro

1/2 cup chopped fresh mint

sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and add in the edamame. Cook for about 3 or 4 minutes, or until tender. Remove to a bowl of cold (or ice) water with a slotted spoon. Bring pot back to boil and add peas for 1 minute, or until warmed through. Drain and add to cold water with edamame, then drain it all well.

2. Roughly puree edamame and peas (in batches) in the food processor, transferring to a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients, stirring until well combined. Let sit for a few hours before serving. (we had ours with belgian endive leaves, carrots, pita, celery, peppers, wild rice and green onion bread, and baguette over the course of a few different events, all with good results)