Gravlax – For Salmon lovers

Salmon is by far my favourite fish, and the more I have it, the less cooked I want it :-). In my books, there is nothing worse than an overcooked dry piece of salmon, then again, that is just my taste.

But my most favourite way to eat salmon, other than Sashimi/Sushi style, is to make it the Norwegian way!

Gravlax is so simple to make, super tasty, perfect snack, appetizer and the best part, it keeps for quite a while.

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Here is how I made mine today:

  • 1 1/2 lbs of salmon (you can ask them to remove the skin, will make it easier when slicing, but I prefer to make it with the skin on)
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 1/4 cup of salt
  • 2 tbs of black pepper
  • 1/8 cup of brandy or aquavit (used brandy today)
  • Bunch of fresh dill

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The best way to keep this easy and non messy is to grab a gallon ziploc bag, put in the salmon, sprinkle in the sugar, salt, black pepper and then add the brandy or aquavit. Then grab a handful of dill and place it on top. Close the bag carefully letting as much air out as possible and then give the bag a gentle massage to get it all mixed up.

Place on flat surface in fridge for 3 days, and everyday, give it a little love, slight massage and turn it over.

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Yes you need to be patient, but 3 days just fly by and then this fabulous treat is ready to eat! Serve it on its own, on crackers with some sour cream and a touch of caviar, or simply with Mustard sauce (you can find various recipes on the internet), we usually skip the mustard sauce :-).

Enjoy and hope you like it as much as I do ❤

 

Deep Fried Brie

Deep Fried Brie is one of my old time favourite appetizers that I used to order in restaurants whilst I lived in Europe.

Since I have been living here in South Florida, I have not seen or come across it in any restaurant, so every once in a while, I like bringing back the old memories and at the same time, making the hubby and the kiddos happy.

Its amazing how a simple dish, with only a couple of ingredients, can delight our palates in such a way!

Serves 4 – For this dish you will need:

Get 2 medium size bowls, in one beat up both eggs and add a dash of salt and pepper. In the other put about  1 1/2 cups of breadcrumbs, you can always top it up if you need more.

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Grab the wheel of cheese and cut it into 8 equal pieces

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Dunk one piece at a time in the egg mixture, then cover it in breadcrumbs, pat it down to make sure they stick and then repeat the same again (each piece will go through the egg and breadcrumbs twice).

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Once you are done with all 8 pieces, place to the side and get a small casserole and add the vegetable oil till its about 1 1/2 inches deep and turn the heat on high, and while the oil is warming up, place the cranberry sauce in a microwavable bowl, add a tablespoon of water and microwave for about a minute.

Mix the sauce and once you get a runnier consistency, spread a nice bed of sauce on each plate.

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Now that the oil is hot, turn the heat down to medium (don’t want to burn your breadcrumbs) and place 2 pieces at a time and remove them as soon as they turn a nice golden colour.

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Place 2 pieces of brie on each plate, garnish your plate with whatever you have at hand, I used Rosemary as I have the biggest bush outside 🙂 , but a touch of green makes for a nice contrast with the bright cranberry colour on the plate.

Serve with slices of french baguette and dig in, you will see it disappears as soon as it hits the plate! What the hubby would call, finger licking good ❤

Not so Greek Salad

A good friend of mine, Ann Kaar recently posted a recipe for greek salad using spiraled cucumber which of course made me drool.

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Got my cucumbers, pulled out my handy dandy spiral slicer gadget and here is are my cucumbers ready to be dressed up with some yummy flavors.

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Found some Nature Sweet Red and Yellow Cherry tomatoes which I thought would be ideal for it and looked very scrumptious!

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Greek salad usually has cucumber, kalamata olives, feta cheese, onions and tomatoes, but of course I decided that I like my goats cheese with cranberries better than feta so today my greek salad is not so greek after all.

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After adding the tomatoes sliced in half, some thinly sliced onions, olives and goats cheese, I tossed the salad in the juice of a lemon, a tablespoons of olive oil and some salt and pepper!

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And there you have it, a delicious light salad to be eaten anytime of the day with not much guilt 🙂

Some rules are meant to be broken……

For all of you avid cooks out there you know what I mean.

There is an art to cooking and certain rules that have to be followed, but as long as we follow the basics, the rest is up to our imagination.

Years ago I was given a recipe of a delicious black eye pea salad which I thought was perfection and didn’t need any changes.

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Here is the recipe for the original salad:

  • 4 cans of black eyed peas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup of chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 cup of chopped yellow bell pepper
  • 1 cup of chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 cup of chopped red onion
  • 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes quartered
  • 1 cup chopped fresh parsley

Since then I replaced the parsley for cilantro and the tomatoes don’t always make it in. Also I prefer more veggies so I only use 3 cans of peas and add extra chopped peppers.

The dressing (did I mention this is the best part)consists of:

  • 3/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of sugar (I use splenda most of the times)
  • 2 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of black pepper

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Today of all days I was really craving this salad as it’s great on its own, as a dip (scoops work the best), on toast as a bruschetta topping and its great tossed with cold pasta turning it into the best pasta salad ever!

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Low and behold when I found that I had no cilantro, no parsley and wasn’t in the mood to put tomatoes into it……..so instead I,

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  • Chopped some watermelon
  • chopped some fresh mint from the garden
  • chopped some fresh basil from the garden

And added it to the peas, peppers and onions, and I have to say it turned into the best of the best black eye pea salad ever!

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So now you understand what I mean by rules are meant to be broken!

Let your imagination run wild, experiment and enjoy!

Wine Lovers – Can’t get any better than this……..or can it?

During my recent trip to Mount Dora, I experienced something really special.

I visited a Wine Bar, but not just any Wine Bar!

It’s called “The Wine Den” and you might be wondering why did I think this particular wine bar was so special?

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Well, here is why…….. you usually think of a wine bar as a place where people go and hang out , socialize and drink copious amounts of wine right? Not saying that they don’t do that here, but this place is more like a “Family” Wine Bar! Everyone knows everyone and in the midst of the social hustle and bustle you get the random tourist that pops in and out, joins in the conversation and buys some wine.

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But the best part is watching the locals savour their wine whilst chatting with the owner and staff, and guess what? You buy your bottle of wine, they put your name on it and keep it in the fridge for you, so that when you stop by the next day or so, its readily awaiting your arrival! Isn’t that a fabulous idea?

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They also, every Friday night, have what they call Yappy Hour – which translates to “Happy Hour” with dogs! Yes, you read it right, its bring your dog to the wine bar night and having experienced it first hand, I have to say that the dogs were very well behaved, it was a very pleasurable evening!

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Should I mention that my good friend Ann diligently prepares and takes in  some to die for appetizers which pair wonderfully with the wines 🙂

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During my visit, not only did I get a chance to taste some lovely wines but I also got to meet some wonderful people, as well as spending some time catching up with old friends!

So next time you find yourself in Mount Dora, swing by “The Wine Den” and enjoy a glass of wine!

Thank you my dear friend Ann for the wonderful experience!

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End of Holiday Season – Leftovers in action

Yes, its kind of sad as the house looks so pretty when its dressed up in its Christmas attire, but unfortunately all good things come to an end.

Its the end of the Holiday Season, so busy morning bringing down all the Christmas Lights, decorations and of course the biggest pain of all, undressing the Christmas Tree!

Time flies, hunger pangs appear and I notice its way past lunchtime which means, out comes the leftover crab mixture from last night, a packet of Wonton wrappers and a jar of Artichoke hearts.

Need to make something we can have on the run so we don’t miss a beat and get lazy during this busy cleaning day :-).

So from the above ingredients you can probably figure out that we are having:

CRAB AND ARTICHOKE RANGOON

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Simple and easy, fill each wonton with a teaspoon of crab mix, top it off with a piece of artichoke hearts, moisten edges with water and scrunch them up into cute little packets.

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I baked them in a385 Deg F oven for 15 minutes and they came out just perfect!

This is of course a perfect appetizer for when you have guests and you can fill them with anything you want, sweet or savory, but today we just had them with a side salad.

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Leftover Ham – The Becoming

Barely got over yesterdays Part I thanksgiving dinner which consisted of Brown Sugar and Pineapple Glazed ham, baked sweet potatoes,  Potatoes Au Gratin garlic and herb bread, spiced green bean casserole and Tres Leches for dessert.

Part II is now in the works with Roasted Turkey, Bacon Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, Madeira Cranberry sauce and Chorizo stuffing.


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In the meantime, I have some ham on the bone left over from yesterday so decided to do something with it whilst waiting for the Turkey to cook.

For this I used:

  • Leftover ham on the bone, cut off the excess ham
  • Diced the excess ham to add to soup at the end (I used just under 2 cups)
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 large potato peeled and diced ( I had used them all for mashed potatoes so I used new potatoes and did not peel them)
  • Can of sweet corn (drained)
  • Can of garbanzo beans (chick peas) (drained), I usually use butter beans or kidney beans but apparently I forgot to stock up on them as all I found in my pantry was the Garbanzo Beans.
  • fresh herbs (bay leaf and thyme in this one), salt and pepper to taste (make sure you taste it as the ham stock is pretty salty on its own)

How to

Place ham in a casserole and cover it up half way with water and let it boil away for about 45 minutes. Discard the bone and set the ham stock aside.

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Drizzle a bit of olive oil into a stock pot and cook the onions and potatoes and garlic until the onions become translucent (about 3 mins).

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Add the ham stock, garbanzo beans and sweet corn, your choice of herbs, pepper and salt if needed.

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Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and cook until the potatoes are soft and tender (time depends on how small you chop your potatoes so I suggest just testing them as you go along).

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Last but not least, add the chopped ham so that it warms up and serve.

Its the perfect leftover dish for a lovely cold crisp evening served with a crisp glass of chardonnay, now I just hope that this cold front down here stays for a few days so we can get to enjoy the soup without breaking out a sweat :-)!