Lemon Roasted Prawns

IMG_6045Preparing a lunch the other day for visiting friends, I was wrapped up in a gluten-free, vegetarian, lactose intolerant, garlic-free menu preparation.  I really don’t mind being given parameters to cook from, as it simply narrows down the field of options.  Which is not a bad thing as it helps me to be creative.

Recently I read an article about Instinctos. I suggest you read up on it rather than me trying to explain it in any detail.  The basic premise is that an Instincto is guided by their sense of smell of raw foods, and when the right smell is found, they eat it.  As I have now found the hardest people to serve food to, I won’t complain again about someone’s life choices when it comes to food.

Here’s a very simple garlic-free recipe for prawns that I came up with for the meal.  The prawns were delicious, and I noticed more than one person sucking the cooked lemon away from the peel. Continue reading

Crab Cakes

IMG_5721About 15 years ago, we had an epic snowfall over the Christmas holidays.  Not that it takes too much for us to be excited, as in this area more than a foot is remarkable.  This storm brought us about 3½’ of snow over a couple of days.  Just when we thought it was over, it would start again.  We have walkout horse stalls, and I can remember the snow sliding off the barn roof towards the snow in the paddocks, until there was only about a 3’ opening.  The horses got in their stalls and then stayed for a few days, while I mucked out religiously, fetched water and food.

During this time, we also lost our power, not a huge concern for us with a great woodstove, back up generator, and gravity fed water.  However, our friends started dropping by to our warm home “for just a quick shower” or a dinner of things that needed to be used up, as their fridges needed to be emptied.  We put the extensions in our kitchen table, and had weird meals of things like perogies & sole, while we played cards and visited.

By the time New Year’s rolled in, we were all pretty tired of the snow, and its inconveniences.  We were invited to a friend’s home for dinner, where she was holed up with a couple of B&B guests.  After hiking out our driveway, and driving over to her place on the water’s edge, we were greeted with lots of candles, and a cheerful fire burning.  We gathered round a big table and demolished a huge crab feast!  It was fabulous! Just what we needed after a weird week of just getting by, and having most of our Christmas plans cancelled.

As the evening unfolded, the weather outside was changing.  The temperature was rising, and rain started falling.  Really falling.  By the time we were trekking back down our driveway, we could hear the water rushing under the icy bottom crust of the snow.

Whenever I eat crab now, I look back at that evening, regardless of the season.  Crabmeat is easily available, either fresh packed or frozen, and makes great crab cakes.

The trick with crab cakes is not to overburden them with unnecessary flavours, and to add just enough binding ingredients to keep them together.   Continue reading

Risotto with Shrimp & Peas

IMG_2653Risotto is not a finicky dish to make.  Picture yourself in a large Italian farmhouse kitchen, with a big apron tied firmly around your middle.  Put a couple of pins in your hair to keep things neat.  The stove has been on most of the day while you’re making bread.  You have a large pot on the back burner with fresh chicken stock, never wasting anything that you’ve either grown or carefully purchased in the market.  Family members have come and gone, chatting as they go about their chores.  During this time you’ve been sautéing onions, adding rice and then slowly have added spoonfuls of the chicken stock with a few splashes of wine, while you stir and talk.  When the family gathers round, you add in some grated hard cheese, and maybe some tender vegetables with a knob of butter.  Without paying too much attention, you’ve created a beautiful glossy dish of risotto, warm and creamy, one of the best comfort foods.

This is a social dish – prepare your ingredients before hand, and enjoy a glass of wine while you cook and visit.  Don’t let it be pretentious.  When it’s ready, serve it simply.  The rest of the meal can be served after. Continue reading