Chickpea & Grilled Corn Chop Salad

It has been a very long time since I’ve sat down and posted to my blog. This has been a super busy year, and somehow in my brain I knew that autumn would come, and with it much needed “time”. It’s not that I haven’t been cooking, boy I have I been cooking! Add in kitchen & bathroom renovations, a new puppy, and one of our wettest fall-winter-springs on record, followed by a full on drought with smokey skies, my energies have been elsewhere… I am so happy to have these breezy, cooler, clear days that late September has brought us.

When I’m doing an event with salads as part of the buffet, I love adding robust “chop” salads. They add texture, and colour to the mix. Because a spoonful goes along way, they fit onto a plate with other foods very easily.

This salad has a little heat, and lots of texture, which is so nice with a burger or chicken dinner. It also serves well as a vegetarian main course salad for those who aren’t going for the meat from the grill. Continue reading

Spiced Chicken Skewers

IMG_8329These little chicken skewers are so moist and flavourful, that no dipping sauce is required, or wanted. Served with a trio of summer salads they make for a lovely al fresco meal. The meat is good served cold in a salad the next day for lunch, or using a smaller skewer, and threading on only one piece of chicken, they are great as an appetizer, year round. Continue reading

Coconut Chicken Stew with Basil & Lime

IMG_9606There is something incredibly satisfying about stews, regardless of their country of origin. Pieces of vegetables nestled in a rich sauce, sometimes with meat, sometimes without. Once I discovered the wonderful aspects of Thai red & green curry pastes, I started playing with different versions of stews using coconut milk as a base. I remember a surprise visit of a large family, and making enough vegetable stew to feed us all easily, using a mixture of just the vegetables I had on hand, along with coconut milk and some curry paste. We served it over mounds of rice in large bowls while we got caught up on each other’s lives.

However, a day came when I didn’t have any curry paste in the pantry, so needed to go it alone. Often now, I tend to make this coconut based stew without the curry paste, and have sorted the ingredients out to make a wonderfully flavoured stew.   I’ve shown it here with chicken, but as the option that follows shows, it is completely wonderful as a meatless stew (although it does use fish sauce, so not completely vegetarian). Continue reading

Mango & Ginger Compote

IMG_9079The first time we travelled as a family to Maui, we wanted to show the girls all the little experiences that can make a Hawaiian vacation an adventure.   Ready to explore those things that were different from home, we stopped at a VW bus parked at the side of the road with fruit for sale. The ancient hippy in his bleached-out tank top, led us into the back of his van to show us boxes of fruit. He took hold of my wrist, and placed two of his fingers on the top of my fore arm and gently pressed down, “this is how a ripe mango should feel, firm, but giving”. I’ve never forgotten that simple little lesson, and use it unconsciously when shopping.

During the same early March trip, we were buying fresh fish burritos for supper, and I asked the time of year that mangoes ripen. We were told that they usually started ripening in May. After just having bought some “local” ripe mangoes from our friendly neighbourhood hippy, I realized that he was just another huckster using a line for a sale. Although, the mangoes were delicious, and we ate them happily believing that they were handpicked from a tree somewhere in the jungle.

The burrito maker told us about a tree loaded with mangoes, which was going to be removed in a vacant lot. We headed out following the directions for the lot, with one daughter full of excitement, and the older one in disbelief that her parents were actually going to go pick mangoes in a vacant lot. She was old enough to continue on, while the three of us made good use of our climbing and reaching skills and picked many hard green mangoes.

Packing to return home, the mangoes were tucked in amongst our clothing to prevent bruising. Once home, they all eventually ripened, and were perfect. Just firm enough, yet giving, as I’d been taught.

Here’s a simple little compote to dollop on rice pudding, tapioca, custard, or Panna Cotta. Continue reading

Black Bean & Quinoa Wraps

IMG_7238Earlier this spring I was catering for a large group, and was asked to provide a 50/50 split of vegetarian and meat sandwiches or wraps. This is so standard now, as many non-vegetarians simply don’t want to be eating meat at every turn.

The vegetarian wraps would need to be sustaining, not just filled with veggies & sauce. I decided to do a mix of beans & quinoa, which would keep these folks energized all afternoon. The resulting mixture made for one of the best wraps I’ve ever had, a good ratio of filling to wrap, with a nice blend of textures.IMG_7214 Continue reading