Thursday, March 15, 2012
West, South, North, Eats
Yes another extended hiatus on the blog, and no the slow cooker post that I promised is not ready yet. The reason? What I made was delicious, I just don't recall exactly what I put in there so until I find my scrappy gravy splattered notes, the post will be on long term loan from the food library in my head.
Why the hiatus? Vacation, the best reason not to be blogging and the best reason to eat, drink and be lazy excessively without judgment. The trip was 10 days long and well deserved. PB and I have moved across the country, both started new jobs and moved house 3 times in the past 6 months. I have had no vacation since April 2011 and that was a family visit to the UK. Well needed and enjoyed but not quite the same as lying by the pool with BBQ's every night and lunches at the golf course patio. We left Nova Scotia in the middle of a snowstorm at 5am in the morning and flew to Vancouver, not a short trip all in all, with 2 flights and a 4 hour time change to absorb. After some fab friend catch up time and a pedicure from the lovely Ms D, it was beddy byes by 8pm. The next day was spent re-connecting with friends, co-workers and family before jetting off to Phoenix, Arizona for 6 days. Foodie highlights from the west coast included a pot luck with my former co-workers who generously provided an amazing spread including sushi from my favorite sushi place (Genji), home made chicken curry (C-A! I need the recipe!) and my very own chocolate bundt cake with mint choc icing that was allergy free courtesy of Maple Maniac (Hugsies MM!).
Travelling to Arizona was quick and painless, despite being charged for all checked luggage by the american airline, and soon we were in the desert amongst the cacti and scorpions. We settled in to the house quickly and found our spots by the pool. We cooked at home about half of the time and ate out the rest. Of course I had been pining for a visit to Trader Joes, one of my favourite US stores. They have a fab range of natural foods and great prices. I was in heaven and did at least 5 laps of the store seeing new things every time around. For example, a box of 30 Emergen-c sachets is $8.50 vs $18.99 here. I stocked up. Big time. They, along with all the other grocery stores in the US sell wine and beer. And to top that, it's way cheaper than home and a much wider selection including my favourite wine from Erath winery in Oregon. Shockingly, beer made in Nova Scotia and exported and shipped to Phoenix is cheaper than the cost of buying at home. True story.
BBQ meals were simple and delicious, PB's legendary bruschetta, peppercorn steak and plain ol grilled chicken. Delish. The best meal out was Saporo sushi. They have sushi happy hour, what a great idea! Not only do you get cheap drinks but you get almost a full menu of sushi and appies to choose from too. We squeaked in 5 mins before happy hour (click here to see the menu) ended and filled the table with mouth watering items such as tootsie rolls (a yummy crab roll), sashimi, spicy tuna rolls, lobster gyoza and tuna tartare.
And then it was all over, we jammed our suitcases with wine, snacks, banana chips and toasted sesame oil from Trader Joes (it was $2.50 a bottle!) and 4 boxes of emergen-c, and hoped the luggage handler gods would be on our side. A long 2 leg flight home via New Jersey and we were back in NS at 2am in the morning ready to sleep, detox and lose the 5lb holiday food, beer, wine and pool lounging bloat we both gained.
Happy to say both PB and I have recovered from our holiday food overload (but it was all so good!) and back to our usual balanced diet. Tonight I planned to cook a new meal, in part inspired by a cook book I received from the Condiment Queen for my recent 21st (HA!) birthday. It's called "Power Foods" and is a mixture of a mini food encyclopaedia and a recipe book. Lots of things caught my eye, so many fresh flavours, bright colours and tempting foods.
I saw a recipe for a black bean salsa with chicken but I was craving fish so bought cod instead and then added a few more ingredients to the salsa. The other component of the meal was from a different recipe, one for salmon, served with a cilantro sauce. The bright green sauce jumped off the page and it was a perfect match for the cod and the black bean and avocado salsa.
For both the sauce and the salsa, you don't need to be exact with ingredients. The only ones I would add a bit at a time would be the lime juice and salt. Add a bit and taste. Over liming and salting is hard to correct unless you want to make 10 x the portions of salsa.
Black Bean, Avocado and Mango Salsa
1/2 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2-1 mango diced
1 avocado, diced
juice of 1-2 limes
6-8 cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1-1/2 jalapeno pepper, diced
1 tablespoon Ex. virgin Olive Oil
salt and pepper to taste
Mix all the ingredients together and let sit while you prepare the cilantro sauce.
2inch piece ginger, grated
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1-2 shallots, diced
juice of 2 limes
bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped
2 tbsp neutral tasting oil such as canola
1 tsp brown sugar ( I used Sucanet)
salt and pepper
Blend all ingredients together in food processor until smoothish. I say smooth-ish because my large food processor was really too big for the quantity so there were some flecks of cilantro but I thought it added to the texture and presentation.
Pan Seared Cod
2 fresh thick cod fillets, about 150g each
1/2 cup spelt or wheat flour
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
2 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp butter
salt and pepper
Mix all dry ingredients together to make a herbed flour dredging mix.
Put oil and butter in frying pan and heat to med high.
Dredge fish in flour mix and place in pan.
Cook fish about 3 mins per side until just cooked through and coating is slightly crisped.
PB and I use this dredging method when we make pan fried chicken and fish. There is no egg wash so it's not a heavy batter. In fact, when you eat it, it's not even like it's coated, it just helps crisp up the edges. Just be careful not to burn the flour as you cook.
Serve the fish over or under the cilantro sauce with the salsa on the side. You'll see from the pic at the start of the post how bright the sauce is, almost fluorescent. It was a big taste bud hit and will be a staple on the regular dinner menu rotation. This would also make a great summer entertaining dish. I think the sauce would work well if added to the salsa or as a lighter dressing for fish taco's in place of guacamole. But who doesn't love guacamole? So have both!
P.S. yes the plate is chipped in the photo.....but I think it adds character to the dish