Tuesday, August 28, 2007

summer latkes

Mony's grandma makes zucchini pancakes (latkes) every once in a while and it has become a favorite of Mony's. This week when he asked if I would make him some for dinner, I was more than happy to oblige but still wanted to make them a little leaner and less heavy. I decided not to use any eggs, and cut way down on the flour. I wanted the zucchini to shine through and be the predominant flavor of the little pancakes.

This is the perfect way to enjoy this season's abundance of zucchini's.

Zucchini & Potato Latkes

2 medium zucchini's, shredded
1 large potato, shredded
1 shallot, shredded
1 clove garlic, shredded
1 tbsp chives
1 tbsp flour
salt & pepper
chili flakes

In a food processor, shred zucchini, potatoes, shallot, and garlic. Drain and squeeze out any extra moisture. Add remaining ingredients. Add additional flour if mixture is too wet. Heat non-stick pan, and spray with Pam or a little oil to prevent sticking. Add spoonfuls to the pan and flatten with back of spoon. Flip, and cook until crispy.
Serve with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

just another thursday night dinner

Just another Thursday dinner...
Steak in a red wine reduction with Parmesan arugula mashed potatoes.

And it was soooooo good.

The steak type was sirloin that was cut up into cubes. The sauce was rich and slightly sweet from the red wine reduction. It was the perfect balance with the savory onions and the pungent garlic.

Tonight's dinner was elegant yet quick to prepare. It felt healthy even though it was a pretty substantial meal. This would be a great meal to entertain with...fooling everyone with how much work was actually put into the meal. It'll be our little secret...

Steak with a red wine reduction sauce

1 lb sirloin steak, cubed
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped coarsely
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup red wine
1 tsp whole grain mustard
1 tsp honey
1 tbsp heavy cream
salt & pepper

Season steak cubes with salt and pepper. Heat a medium skillet with the olive oil. Place the cubes into the hot skillet and do not move them. After about a 1 or 2 minutes flip the meat cubes. You'll notice a crispy crust on the meat (that's perfect). Another 30 seconds later, take out cubes and place onto a plate. Sauté onions and garlic in skillet. Once browned and softened, add red wine and scrape pan. Allow to reduce and add remaining ingredients, heavy cream last. Taste for salt and pepper. Add beef cubes and heat thoroughly.

fancy potatoes

The accompaniment to tonight's great meal was creamy, decadent mashed potatoes. The potatoes were from our CSA share from yesterday. We added arugula to the potatoes so that I could officially claim that we ate some real veggies with dinner..but it really was a nice touch, adding a peppery finish to the mash.
Definitely worth doing again.

Arugula Parmesan Mashed Potatoes

5 potatoes, medium
1 small head roasted garlic
1 cup arugula, chopped
1/4 cup parmesan
salt & pepper

Wash and boil potatoes in salted water. Once softened, drain water and mash the potatoes (leave potato skin on for that rustic taste and look). Add remaining ingredients, except arugula.
Taste for seasoning.
Fold in arugula once ready to eat.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

the perfect sandwich(es)

There's something about a classic sandwich that says comfort food like nothing else. The simple combination of melted cheese (and bacon) sandwiched between two crisp slices of toasted bread is a favorite of nearly everyone I know. And bacon, lettuce and tomato on toast has that special something that provides the ultimate combination of flavours and textures.

Tonight we shared a half of a grilled cheese & bacon sandwich and half of a BLT, along with some salad on the side.

Our perfect grilled cheese sandwich combined a couple of slices of toasted flax bread, some slices of friulano cheese, and a some cooked bacon. Friulano owes its name to the magnificent Frioul region of Italy. It is sometimes known as Italian cheddar. The assembled sandwich gets some margarine on both sides and sits in a frying pan until it's golden brown and the cheese is nice and melted. The final touch is to slice the sandwich diagonally. Please, don't attempt to slice it any other way, as the sandwich will become inedible.

The supreme BLT to us consisted of cooked bacon, farm-fresh tomatoes and lettuce, between slices of lightly toasted bread, generously spread with mayo.

Those CSA tomatoes are like no other that we've tried. Full of juice and tender pulp and not the least bit grainy like those you find in the supermarket.

Share your recipes for the ultimate sandwich with us!

CSA: Week 8

This week's CSA share included:

* Beets
* Lettuce
* Onions
* Thyme
* Squash
* Bell Peppers
* Tomatoes
* Garlic
* Jalapeños
* Arugula
* Bag of Red Potatoes

This week's share included a large squash that resembles a spaghetti squash but it is white in color. Any idea what kind of squash this is?

We were also glad to see some beautiful bell peppers, combining shades of red and green.

Fresh thyme is one of our favorite herbs and we received a generous portion. We also can't get enough of the fragrant fresh garlic we've been getting over the last few weeks.

Friday, August 17, 2007

home sweet home

No matter how much you enjoy a trip, there is no feeling that matches that of coming home. There is that warm comfort of knowing that everything is still the same, and most importantly, that your bed is just as comfy as you remember it being.

After an extremely long day, with the majority of the time waiting in airport lines, it was nice to be able to come home and unwind. It was also nice knowing that I would have dinner ready for me upon my arrival.

Mony chose to make salmon, along with a crisp romaine salad. It was a wonderful change from the indulgent business dinners I had in Maryland. Maryland is a beautiful state with restaurants on every corner and I wish I could say that I tried some great local restaurants but the truth is, chain restaurants won the vote every time (hanging my head in shame). Although, for chain restaurants I think we did pretty good - some of those included Ruth's Chris, and The Cheesecake Factory. It was my first time at Ruth's Chris and boy are those guys serious about good food and good service. One of the the items we had there were the crab cakes and they did not disappoint. Maryland is quite famous for their crab cakes, which were sweet and tender with practically no fillers. It put all other crab cakes to shame (sorry, Mony!).

Anyways, enough about that. Now, back to my homecoming...

Mony marinated the salmon fillets in a mixture of lemon zest, garlic, olive oil, s&p, and some fresh garden herbs (those included thyme, chives, and oregano). Once we got home from the airport, he added a splash of lemon juice, placed them in the oven, and helped me unpack. 20 minutes later when we were ready for dinner, the fish was perfectly done and ready to be eaten.

It was a wonderful dinner and a relaxing night...just the way I like it.
Maryland was great, but I'm glad to be back home.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

putting in a good effort

Alright, so today I buckled down and put on the apron, as promised, to cook a fresh meal for myself after disappointing many of you with last night's pizza fiasco. Between picking up this week's CSA share, getting the car from the garage, and fitting in a game of softball, I had only an hour to make a meal, consume it, and digest in time for the game. Luckily, I had the foresight to take out some boneless chicken thighs from the freezer last night to defrost in the fridge overnight.

I got to work on a quick and simple Moroccan preparation. Some olive oil, a bit of turmeric, a dash of hot and bittersweet paprika, salt, pepper and lemon juice and I left the thighs to marinate for a few minutes. In the meantime, I chopped up half an onion and minced a large garlic clove and sauteed them in a large nonstick skillet until they were soft and translucent. Then, I cranked up the heat, browned the chicken on both sides and removed them from the pan when they were fully cooked. Then came a bunch of Moroccan olives that I pitted by pressing down on them with the flat side of a knife on the cutting board.

The onion and garlic took on the deep yellow color of the turmeric. I then added a cup of chicken broth and let the liquid come to a boil. Next came a cup of couscous and I pulled the pan off the heat and covered it with a tight-fitting lid.

5 minutes later and the couscous was perfectly cooked. I added the thighs back to the pan and I was done. All in about 15 minutes flat. Plenty of time to eat and take it easy until the big game.

Looks like I redeemed myself. However, although this was a tasty dish, it was missing the "Dina Factor" that would take it to the next level. Perhaps some of the CSA zucchini and some hot chilis would have added that special something.

Less than 24 hours to go and I'll be back to a happy man.

CSA: Week 7

This week's CSA share included:

* Swiss chard
* Onions
* Flat green beans
* Chives
* Patty squash
* Cucumber
* Tomatoes
* Garlic
* Jalapeños

Check out the colour on those tomatoes!

I'm looking forward to us trying out some new dishes with this fresh crop...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

honesty is the best policy

Under the watchful eyes of Buster and Salty, I came home with a pizza from the nearby Pizza Nova location. Now, many of you don't know me as the greatest of risk-takers, but today, after an extra long work day, I bit the bullet and decided that a pizza would appease my appetite.

For those of you who aren't familiar with this Canadian pizza chain, Pizza Nova offers unique toppings and many crust options. Although I made have broken one of the rules that Dina set for me before she left, at least I was good about it. I chose a whole wheat crust and lots of veggie toppings. Okay, maybe it's a stretch, but can you blame me when pizza looks this good?

One half had grilled chicken, spanish onions and sun dried tomatoes, while the other was covered with pepperoni, roasted garlic and roasted red peppers.

Now, how about some suggestions on what I should make for dinner when Dina gets back on Thursday? Something quick, simple and hearty would be perfect.

all is quiet on the western front

I'm sure you've noticed that there hasn't been much action lately on Miche Mâche. That's because, well, there just hasn't been much action in the kitchen since Dina went on her business trip.

Here are the highlights of the last 24 hours:

Breakfast yesterday: Cereal
Lunch yesterday: Leftover chicken and roasted veggies
Dinner yesterday: Had some delicious Jambalaya at mom's

Breakfast today: Sesame seed bagel with cream cheese and a glass of tropical fruit juice
Lunch today: Leftover Jambalaya
Dinner today: Pizza*

*Okay, so Dina mentioned in her last post that she doesn't want to read about me having pizza while she's away. But, before you all freak out and call her in Maryland to tell on me, here's why I can get away with it: 1) I'm working late tonight and won't have the time to prepare something, knowing how long it takes me to put something together and 2) She told me it was okay before she left.

A promise to you all, though: Wednesday will be a cook-fest (after I pick up the CSA goods from the farm) and I will document it all for you.

Can you tell that I'm a mess without her?

Sunday, August 12, 2007

cinq à sept

Today was a very hectic day. Not only am I preparing for a business trip, but on top of that, we are anticipating an important wedding next weekend...plus not to mention trying to sell our condo and looking for a new house all at once...it all seems to be moving so fast.

After a long day out, we decided that we needed to unwind - and the perfect place to do that would be on our balcony. We armed ourselves with drinks, snacks, and good conversation. We talked about houses, weddings, and what my beloved would be cooking for himself while I'm away on business next week (starting tomorrow). We had to set some ground rules as I didn't want to read (on the blog) that he's been eating pizza and hot dogs all week. I expect his culinary skills to come forward and awe us all - not to mention I'm hoping for a nice 'welcome back' dinner when I return on Thursday evening.

Along with the great drinks, we snacked on a simple, yet flavorful feta-sun dried tomato dip. It was a quick throw together but it turned out great and I've been asked to make this again - I've also been told that it's good enough for company. Who am I to argue??

Feta & Sun dried tomato Dip

1 medium block of feta
2 tbsp cream cheese
1 tbsp chopped sun dried tomatoes
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp ground fennel

Microwave feta cheese in a bowl until soft enough to mix. Add cream cheese and mix until creamy. Add remaining ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined.
Enjoy with pita chips and assorted veggies.

happy hour

The perfect summer drink - especially on hot, and humid days like today.


1 teaspoon sugar
Juice from 1 lime (2 ounces)
4 mint leaves
1 sprig of mint
Rum (2 ounces)
Club soda

Place the mint leaves into a tall glass and squeeze the juice from a cut lime over it. You'll want about two ounces of lime juice, so it may not require all of the juice from a single lime. Add the sugar, then gently smash the mint into the lime juice and sugar with a muddler (you can also use the back of a fork or spoon if one isn't available). Add ice (preferably crushed) then add the rum and stir, and top off with the club soda (you can also mix the club soda in as per your taste). Garnish with a mint sprig and lime.

And repeat.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

chicken salad with a twist

Every so often, we feel like taking a break from those heavy, hearty meals. Tonight, after a busy day of heading from one part of the city to another, we decided that a salad would suit us perfectly for dinner.

We pan fried some chicken breast, seasoned simply with some salt and pepper and cut it up into chunks. Then, for a vietnamese-inspired "dressing" we put together some authentic ingredients and let the chicken marinate in it for a few hours in the fridge. We placed the chicken on a bed of thinly sliced cucumbers and tossed some of the CSA coriander leaves all over the top and it was time to chow down.

Here's how it came together:

Vietnamese Lemongrass Dressing

2 scallions, chopped
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 stalk of lemongrass, chopped in large pieces (remove before serving)
1 tbsp chili garlic sauce
1 lemon, juiced
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp fish sauce
pinch of salt
1 tsp ginger, minced
1 clove garlic, minced

1. Combine all ingredients.
2. Stir dressing into cooked meat (or seafood).
3. Place the mixture over thinly sliced cucumber and place in fridge to marinate.
4. Serve chilled, garnish with parsley or coriander leaves.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

an indon(easy) meal

So tonight we both came home from work with a craving for some seafood, but absolutely no idea what to make. I remembered that we had a basa filet in the freezer and a bag of shrimp. We had the hankering for something tangy and spicy, so we got to brainstorming.

A stir-fry of some sort was just what we needed, but we didn't want the typical szechuan fare. We decided on an Indonesian-style fish and shrimp stir-fry.

I chopped up the fish into bite-size pieces and sliced an onion while Dina prepared a sauce. She combined red chili flakes, some sugar, chopped fresh garlic, vegetable oil and white wine vinegar. A preparation of cornstarch and cold water would be the thickener for the sauce.

In a wok with some vegetable oil at high heat, Dina cooked the onions until they were soft and translucent and then added the sauce. After a couple of minutes, she tossed in the fish and shrimp (still in their shells) and stir-fried the mixture until it was cooked through. A dash of chili garlic sauce went in for some more spiciness. Then, off the heat, some of the cornstarch liquid went in and as soon as the sauce thickened up, we were ready to eat.

For a dish that took all of 10 minutes to prepare, this had tons of asian flavor and the basa was the perfect, firm fish to stand up to the vigorous stir-fry method.

CSA: Week 6

This week's CSA share included:

* Beets
* Onions
* Flat green beans
* Arugula
* Patty squash
* Zucchini
* Cucumber
* Parsley
* Coriander
* Lemon balm
* Jalapeños

The coriander we received was like nothing I've seen before. It actually looks like a cross between dill and tarragon, but smells and tastes like coriander (cilantro).
Anyone know the name of this variety?

This week, everything was super-sized. Gorgeous large beets, super long green beans, and yellow squash the size of our cat's head!

Check out the zucchini we received. It's massive -- a whopping 18 inches!
What should I make with it??
(Mony doesn't like zucchini bread so that's out...)