Savory Saturday – Japan

I need something fresh to eat today. Too many nights out for dinner this week.

The perfect thing for me today is a salad…not a boring one, but an Asian inspired tasty treat.

Asian Spinach Salad with Miso Ginger Vinaigrette from Chef Michael Smith (Canadian!!)

This is one of my favourite salads! It’s loaded with bursts of Asian flavour that give it a ton of fusion character. It tastes exotic but its flavours are still very comfortable.

Serving: 4 Servings (Vinaigrette 2 Cups)

Ingredients

Source

6 ounce bag baby spinach leaves
A few, thinly sliced sheets nori seaweed
A few, thinly sliced candied giner
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
A cup vegetable oil
A few heaping spoonfuls honey
A heaping spoonfuls or two miso paste
A small knob grated ginger
A few dashes seame oil
A dash soya sauce

Instructions

For the Salad:

Toss the spinach, mint, nori seaweed and ginger with a generous splash of the dressing. It’s as simple as that.

For the Vinaigrette:

Mix everything together until smooth vinaigrette forms. A blender, food processor or an old-fashioned whisk and bowl all work well but I prefer my immersion blender. It’s easier to clean up!

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5 little known facts about me

I’ve been blogging now for over 6 months, and would like to thank all of you for checking in and listening to my warble on about my travel dreams and viewing some of my attempts at photography. You probably know my interested pretty well, but I thought I would throw out 5 little known facts about myself.

1. I can tuck in my left ear. (WHAT does that mean you ask?!). When I was a little girl, instead of a soother to help comfort myself, I would play with my left ear and fold it in on itself. Over several years of doing this when I was a little wee one, my ear cartiledge became so flexible, I can still, to this day, fold my ear into my ear cavity and have it hang out like that for a few minutes. (I still do this sometimes when it is really cold out, to prevent the air from irritating my ears).

2. My first airplane flight occurred when I was in third year university (about 22  years old). Shocking for a travel lover, huh? It was to Cuba, and I certainly enjoyed those spectacular white sand beaches and reggaeton tunes blaring every which way I went.

3. I did a stint as a photo lab technician. Wow, what pictures I saw when I developed my towns photographs when in high school. Some of those memories are burned to the back of my eyeballs. Yuck!

4. I have never seen any of the following movies: The Godfather, Rocky, Back to the Future, Gone with the Wind, and just saw Ghostbuster for the first time this Halloween! Basically any acclaimed movie on IMDb’s top 250 list (excluding Star Wars and Lord of the Rings – my fav!).

5. I have never cooked a meal beyond Kraft Dinner, oatmeal, or Lipton’s Chicken Noodle Soup until I was 27. Now look at my recipe posts right and left!

R.I.P. Mr. Tomato Plant

So long buddy....

I just returned from my month and a half long adventure off in the American and Canadian wilderness. One of the first things I had to check when I returned to my home was to check on my poor poor Mr. Tomato plant who had been neglected. I had forgotten to give Mr. Tomato plant a cozy home while I could not care and eat all the wonderful presents it would deliver to me this summer.

Alas, when I saw those poor dried out leaves, the pot tipped over sideways on my balcony, my eyes were drawn toward the bright red TOMATOES growing on the defunct plant. It was a sign.

“Don’t give up”, it said…”wait until next year when you can enlist some help to nurture me. I have hope for you yet, traveler.”

Rest easy Mr. Tomato plant…I will remember you until I throw you down the garbage chute tomorrow and remember that you gave me hope that I might still develop a green thumb some day.

Mr. Tomato

My tomato plant, basil plant, and my dog hanging out on the balcony

I am a little worried that I got a tomato plant to grow happily on my balcony this summer. Where will the travelling bug take me with my 2+ months off? Will my tomato plant wilt away to nothingness when I am away? Probably.

There is something about nuturing a plant to produce something useful (basically any fruit, vegetable, or herb) that I love. Flowers are ok, they are pretty and colourful, but give me a plant with more meaning. I even like Aloe plants better, so I can rub the sweet, sweet goo on my cuts and burns as they come along.

Oh how I wish this tomato plant would start producing already, while I am still giving it my undivided attention. Hopefully my sister will miss visiting my condo, and decide that she wants to come once a week while I am away to water it. It’s possible!

This is what I would do to my tomatoes if they came to life soon:

Homemade Salsa:

1 jalapeño diced

3 tomatoes from Mr. Tomato plant chopped

10 basil leaves from my basil plant chopped

1/2 a white onion, chopped

2 tbsp lime juice

salt and pepper to taste

Pair this with my favorite Que Pasa organic chips (thanks S. for these), or toast up some whole wheat pitas, and voila, a great use for my green thumb.

Come on little guy!

Au revoir!

It’s Thursday, one day before a relaxing weekend trip to Quebec City. I am very much looking forward to this quick get-away. My mouth is actually salivating a tiny bit as I think about the French onion soup I had there last time.

I attempted to make my own once, semi-succeeded, but I could never beat the kind you can find there. BUT, if you can’t quite make it to Quebec right now, why don’t you try out this recipe to hold you over:

Source

French Onion Soup

What you need:

8 large shallots, sliced
5-6 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 Bay Leaf
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups of red wine
8 cups beef stock


Preparation

1. Heat olive oil in a soup pot on medium heat.

2. Add shallots, garlic, salt, pepper, and bay leaf

3. Sautee, stirring every few minutes for about 40 minutes, until onions are brown.

4. Add a 1/4 cup of the red wine and sautée for 5 more minutes.

5. Add the remaining red wine.

6. Add beef stock, bring to a boil, then reduce heat.

7. Allow to simmer for a few minutes.

8. Ladle soup into oven-proof bowls.

9. Place a slice of French bread or sourdough bread on each bowl.

10. Top each piece of bread with a thin slice of Gruyere cheese.

11. Place the bowls on a cookie sheet, and place under the broiler. Broil until cheese begins to bubble, and remove the tray from the oven.

12. Allow to cool for a few minutes, serve, and enjoy!

It was maybe 26 years before I decided that I could cook.

Ok, sure, I grew up and I had an easy baker, and I helped my mother out in the kitchen while she made a cake, or created her pasta sauce. None of this involved experiments, creativity, and passion, I was just a helper. My love for cooking only began about a year or two ago. Mostly I think my inspiration to start cooking came from my travel around Italy last summer. My travel partner was passionate about food, and it became contagious once we visited restaurants recommended by locals and weaved through the markets testing out the local food specialties.

Here is one of my favorite recipes, inspired from my trip to Italy:

Source

Vegetarian Lasagna Rolls (serves 2-4)

2 portabello mushrooms -thinly sliced

1 bunch spinach

1 small white onion – chopped

4-5 cloves garlic – diced

1 tsp oregnao

1 tsp basil

9 lasgagna noodles cooked

1 cup monterey jack cheese

1 container (32oz) ricotta cheese

1 jar tomato sauce

1 can whole tomatoes

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350°C
  • Saute garlic and onion in large skillet
  • Add mushrooms and spinach
  • Cook until spinach is wilted
  • Boil lasagna noodles in the meantime and drain when cooked
  • Combine both cheese in a bowl, add basil and oregano – mix well
  • Drain excess liquid from the sauteed vegetables and add to the cheese mixture to create the filling
  • Lay the lasagna noodles flat and spread filling mixture onto the noodle, lengthwise, leaving a 2cm space at either end
  • Roll the noodle tightly
  • Spread half of the tomato sauce on the bottom of a deep baking pan
  • Lay each lasagna noodle on the pan, on top of the sauce
  • When all noodles have been placed, top them with the remaining tomato sauce
  • Add the entire can of whole tomatoes to the top of the rolls as well
  • Cooking time: 60 minutes

Serve with garlic bread and optional topping of parmesan cheese over the rolls.