Lentil Salad with Asiago Cheese

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups green or brown lentils, rinsed

2 green onions, sliced

1 large carrot, diced

1 sweet red pepper, chopped

1 stalk celery, diced

1/2 cup shredded Asiago cheese

2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

 

Dressing:

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp each dried oregano and salt

1/4 tsp pepper

 

Directions:

1. In saucepan, bring lentils and 3 cups water to boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

2. Add carrot and simmer until lentils are tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Drain and let cool.

3. Dressing: In large bowl, whisk oil, vinegar, mustard, oregano, salt and pepper. Add lentil mixture, onions, red pepper, celery, cheese and parsley; toss to coat.

 


Easy Spinach Dip

For an attractive look, serve dip in a 1 pound, hollowed out Sour Dough bread loaf. Cut pieces of the bread and use for dipping.

 

Ingredients:

2 packages of frozen, chopped spinach, thawed

1 can water chestnuts, drained

1 cup sour cream

1 cup plain yogurt

1 cup green onions, copped

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground mustard

1/4 teaspoon pepper

 

Directions:

1. Squeeze water from thawed spinach until dry.

2. Place all ingredients except green onions in blender and blend until desired consistency is reached. Add salt accordingly, to taste.

3. Cover and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes.

 


Phad Thai

If you’ve never tasted Phad Thai – or Thai Noodles – before, then you’re life has been missing something vital and imperative. It is the quintessential Thai meal, if ever there was one; like bangers and mash to the British, sushi and sashimi to the Japanese, or Swedish meatballs to Ikea shoppers. Although the best place to sample this dish is fresh from a Bangkok street vendor in Thailand itself, probably for the equivalent of 50 cents, your local Thai restaurant will undoubtedly carry this dish too, though likely for 20 times the price. Better yet, dust off your kitchen wok,  hunt down some fish sauce and other easy to find ingredients and try your hand at this very simple meal. For a bit of extra burn of the esophagus and for a more authentic Thai feel, try adding the peppers. Continue reading


Mediterranean Omelette with Pesto

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and I tend to get cranky by 8:30 am if I haven’t eaten. This wholesome and delicious omelette can normally get me by until noon, easily. This has been my weekend special for years now and it is still the best way I know to way up on a Sunday, coffee in hand, before sitting down to tackle a crossword. Pure bliss.

Ingredients:

2-3 eggs, beaten

2 tbsp water

1/2 cup chopped tomatoes

1/2 of an onion, diced

4-5 Kalamata olives, chopped

1/3 cup coarsely chopped mushrooms, any kind

1/4 cup soft cheese (I use La Vache qui Rit)

1-2 Tbsp pre-made pesto sauce

1 tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Shredded Parmesan, to taste

Directions:

1. Heat oil in frying pan on medium heat until hot, then add onions and olives and stir for 2 minutes.

2. Add mushrooms and tomatoes and cook together for 2 more minutes.

3. Whisk together the eggs and 2 tbsp water for fluffiness, then pour into frying pan. In a circular motion, swirl the egg thinly and evenly to coat the contents of the frying pan. As eggs begin to firm (1 minute or so), drizzle with half of the pesto and then place cut up cheese onto the cooking omelette. Add salt and pepper.

4. When the eggs are firm enough, flip the omelette in half, folded, with the spatula (you may need to use 2 utensils at the same time, to make sure it stays together). When the egg is no longer runny, the omelette is ready.

5. Drizzle with remaining pesto and sprinkle with parmesan.


Rice and Artichoke Spring Salad

Of all the recipes on this site, this one is hands down the quickest and easiest. It is a side dish that I’ve been preparing for over ten years and that I keep coming back to, no matter how my tastes change or refine. Enjoy.

 

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time of rice: varies depending on the rice

(Serves 10 as a side dish)

 

Ingredients:

1 cup uncooked regular rice

4 green onions, chopped

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1 medium red bell pepper, chopped

1 can (10-14 ounces) artichoke hearts, drained and cut into half or quarter pieces

Lemon garlic vinaigrette (see below)

 

Lemon Garlic Vinaigrette

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tbsp lemon zest

Juice from 2 lemons

2/3 tsp salt

pepper to taste

1 tsp oregano

1 clove garlic, chopped finely

 

Directions:

1. Cook rice as directed. As it cooks, prepare the lemon garlic vinaigrette

2. Mix rice and remaining ingredients in large bowl, then toss with vinaigrette mixture. Cover and chill in the fridge for 2-3 hours before serving.


Mediterranean Pesto Fettuccine

Two summers ago when I was training for my first Marathon I became addicted to eating pasta. I was hungry all the time and needed constant carb-replenishment. It only took a week and a half of eating spaghetti, however, until I my body had enough and all of my white shirts had been stained with pasta sauce. I came up with this recipe in attempt to redeem pasta’s reputation at my dinner table; it is a lighter alternative to tomato-based sauces and will please the fussiest of eaters who normally wouldn’t eat a lot of vegetables. This has become one of my favourite dishes that I enjoy cooking up at least once a month. Continue reading


Japanese-Style Steak Sauce (for rice)

If you’re like me, you have to order a serving of rice with sesame steak sauce every time you visit your local Japanese restaurant – there is something highly addictive about it. A friend of mine passed along this recipe, which I think tastes pretty close to the real thing.

 

Ingredients:

1/3 cup raw sesame seeds

1 tsp dijon mustard mixed with 1 tsp dry mustard; mix with a little water to make a paste

2/3 cup light soy sauce

2/3 cup light oil

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 small clove garlic, minced

1/3 cup mayonnaise

Directions:

1. Toast raw sesame seeds in a dry heavy saucepan on medium heat. Raise the saucepan in quick intervals off and on the heat, shifting and moving the seeds until they are a uniform light brown. Stay vigilant with this…the seeds can burn easily if left in one position too long.

2. Put seeds and remaining ingredients – except mayonnaise – in blender and blend until smooth, about three minutes.

3. Add mayonnaise and blend additional minute


Dan’s Salsa Mexicana

Ingredients/Directions:

1 can whole or chopped/diced tomatoes (drain liquid and reserve to adjust texture later).

2-3  large jalapenos baked in aluminum foil at 375 for 25 minutes (cool and pull skin where possible, cut in half and scrape away seeds) and dice.

1/3 cup diced onion (sweet if available).

1/3 cup cilantro chopped fine.

Stir together ingredients, as prepared, and serve with tortilla chips

Optional: dash of lime or vinegar, and/or touch of dried oregano


Southwest Tuna with Black Beans

Ingredients:

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 small onion, chopped

1 Anaheim chili, chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 tbsp grated lime peel

3 tbsp lime juice

1 medium tomato, chopped

2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained

2 cans white tuna, rinsed and drained.

Directions:

1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Cook onion and garlic about 2 minutes, stirring constantly until onion is softened.

2. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until hot.


Spicy Cornmeal Cod

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds cod, perch or other lean fish

3/4 cup cornmeal

1/4 cup flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

2 eggs, beaten

3 tbsp butter, melted

 

Directions:

1. Heat oven to 500 degrees F

2. Cut fish fillets into 4 x 2 inch pieces. Mix remaining ingredients except eggs and butter. Dip fish into beaten egg, then coat with cornmeal mixture.

3. Place fish on ungreased cookie sheet. Drizzle butter over fish. Bake 11 minutes, turning fish once.


Free falling – Skydiving on my Birthday

Skydiving is not for the faint of heart. Neither is it for the incontinent of bladder or shrill of voice.

As a spontaneous birthday dare, my girlfriend and I found ourselves pulling up to the Victoria Sky Diving Centre one otherwise pleasant Sunday afternoon in early August, to test my fear of falling from a moving aircraft (call me skittish) and also to experience firsthand the allegedly transformative powers of this sport’s exhilaration and fear.

I signed myself up for a tandem jump. Unsure what the word meant, and too lazy to do a bit of research beforehand, I envisioned this as me jumping with a troop of Elvis look-alikes and forming elaborate shapes in the sky – a web of falling gabardine. Tandem actually meant I would be harnessed to a stranger’s crotch and that in the event that our primary and reserve parachutes failed to open, my soft body underneath would protect his fall. I was determined to seek out the thinnest instructor in the room.

Inside the office were hung various safety equipment and harnesses, instilling me with a confidence that dissolved when hearing the good-natured banter between my tandem instructor Brian and a spandex-clad videographer about which piece of my harness connected to which.  The videographer’s job was to leap out of the plane milliseconds before me and capture my expressions of, in no particular order, a) Terror and Panic as I realize that I’m falling from a height higher than a tree, a response ingrained by our vine-swinging ancestors millennia ago, b) Anger as I realize this is actually worse than the teacup ride at Disneyland, as had been promised back at the office, c) Excitement, as the neurons inhabiting the fear centres of my brain exhaust themselves to submission and d) Disgust as I ingest a colony of high-flying bugs through my nose, as my body plummets at 9.8 metres per second square.

Feeling a little uncomfortable in the office about being so close to a man in purple spandex, I nervously quip that I forgot my Huggies at home, referring to a rumour I heard about first-timers from a friend at work. “Diapers are optional,” was the straight-faced reply from the receptionist.

Starting to get performance anxiety

Continue reading