Archive for June, 2011

This refreshing salad from the July 2011 issue of Cook’s Illustrated is perfect for a warm summer evening. The steak is grilled, sliced and quickly tossed with hot chiles, shallots, mint and cilantro in a classic Thai sauce of fish sauce, lime juice and sugar. The mixture is then served over crisp slices of cucumber. The salad is also enhanced by the addition of toasted rice powder, which adds texture. Our butcher did not have flank steak, so I used a New York striploin. Whatever type of steak you used, be sure to slice it thinly, across the grain. I also used a jalapeno instead of Thai chile.

Toast rice and grind it into a powder

Chiles and shallots add heat and flavour

Mint and cilantro add fresh flavours

To avoid additives and preservatives in this recipe, use fresh lime juice and a fish sauce without MSG, such as Thai Kitchen brand.

Thai Grilled-Beef Salad


1 teaspoon sweet paprika

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon white rice

3 tablespoons lime juice (2 limes)

2 tablespoons fish sauce

2 tablespoons water

½ teaspoon sugar

1 ½ pound flank steak, trimmed

Salt and white pepper, coarsely ground

4 shallots, sliced thin

1 ½ cups fresh mint leaves, torn

1 ½ cups fresh cilantro leaves

1 Thai chile, stemmed and sliced thin into rounds

1 seedless English cucumber, sliced ¼ inch thick on bias


Heat paprika and cayenne in 8-inch skillet over medium heat; cook, shaking pan, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer to small bowl. Return now-empty skillet to medium-high heat, add rice, and toast, stirring frequently, until deep golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to second small bowl and cool for 5 minutes. Grind rice with spice grinder, mini food processor, or mortar and pestle until it resembles fine meal, 10 to 30 seconds (you should have about 1 tablespoon rice powder).

Whisk lime juice, fish sauce, water, sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon toasted paprika mixture in large bowl and set aside.

For a Charcoal Grill: Open bottom vent completely. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over half of grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.

For a Gas Grill: Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Leave primary burner on high and turn off other burner(s).

Clean and oil cooking grate. Season steak with salt and white pepper. Place steak over hot part of grill and cook until beginning to char and beads of moisture appear on outer edges of meat, 5 to 6 minutes. Flip steak and continue to cook on second side until charred and center registers 125 degrees, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer to plate, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes (or allow to cool to room temperature, about 1 hour).

Slice meat, against grain, on bias into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Transfer sliced steak to bowl with fish sauce mixture. Add shallots, mint, cilantro, chile, and half of rice powder; toss to combine. Transfer to platter lined with cucumber slices. Serve, passing remaining rice powder and toasted paprika mixture separately.

Serve with steamed rice. Serves 4 to 6.

From the July 2011 issue of Cook’s Illustrated

Thai Beef Salad

This new find, which is great for a quick weeknight supper, is from the June 2011 issue of Everyday Food. Simply marinate steak in a mixture of oil, chile powder, brown sugar, soy sauce and lime juice, grill it with some onion slices and serve in soft tortillas with your favourite toppings. The magazine recipe suggested a tomatillo salsa, but tomatillos are not available here so I used our own homemade salsa (see my September 19, 2010 post for the recipe).

Slice the grilled steak into thin strips

Grill slices of onion along with the steak

I used grape tomatoes and feta cheese as toppings.

Serve in soft tortillas with your favourite toppings

To avoid additives and preservatives in this recipe, use tamari instead of soy sauce, which frequently contains sodium benzoate. Use fresh lime juice and tortillas with no artificial ingredients.


1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus more for grill

2 tablespoons chile powder, such as ancho, pasilla, or chipotle

2 tablespoons light-brown sugar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus wedges for serving

1-½ pounds flank steak

Coarse salt and ground pepper

1 large red onion, cut into ¼-inch rounds

12 corn tortillas, warmed or lightly toasted

Salsa, for serving


In a small bowl, whisk together oil, chile powder, brown sugar, soy sauce, and lime juice. Place steak in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and cover with marinade. Turn once to coat steak, then cover dish tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour.

Heat a grill or grill pan to medium-high. Clean and lightly oil hot grill. Remove steak from marinade, letting excess drip off; reserve marinade. Season steak with salt and pepper. Grill onion and steak, flipping occasionally, until onion is lightly charred and steak is medium-rare, about 10 minutes. Brush onion and steak with reserved marinade and cook 1 minute more, flipping once. Place onion on a serving plate.

Transfer steak to a cutting board, loosely tent with foil, and let rest 10 minutes before thinly slicing against the grain. Serve steak and onion with tortillas, salsa, and lime wedges. Makes 12 tacos.

From the June 2011 issue of Everyday Food

If you want to increase the amount of grains and vegetables you eat, try this great new find from the June 2011 issue of Canadian Living. Vegetables are grilled, tossed with cooked quinoa, feta cheese and cilantro, and dressed with a delicious smoky-sweet chipotle vinaigrette. I didn’t have red or yellow peppers on hand, so I substituted red onion and green pepper. I used chipotle Tabasco sauce instead of the canned chipotle and I omitted the pumpkin seeds.

Use whatever raw vegetables you like to grill

Grill vegetables until tender

I’ll be making this many times this summer. It is a wonderful accompaniment to grilled meats, and would also satisfy vegetarians and those looking for a gluten-free dish.

Grilled Vegetable Quinoa Salad

To avoid additives and preservatives in this recipe, use feta cheese with no artificial ingredients added and red wine vinegar with no sulfites added, such as Eden Organic.



1 cup quinoa
1 sweet red pepper, quartered
1 sweet yellow pepper, quartered
1 zucchini, cut lengthwise in 1/2-inch thick strips
12 asparagus spears, trimmed
½ cup light feta cheese, crumbled
¼ cup toasted pumpkin seedpumpkin seeds
3 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

Chipotle Vinaigrette

3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced
2 tsp liquid honey
½ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper


Soak quinoa in cold water for 3 minutes; drain in sieve. In saucepan, bring 1-½  cups salted water to boil; stir in quinoa and return to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer until no liquid remains, 12 to 15 minutes.

Remove from heat and fluff with fork; cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Spread on small tray and let cool for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together oil, vinegar, chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, honey, cumin, salt and pepper. Set aside.

In large bowl, toss together red and yellow peppers, zucchini, asparagus and 3 tbsp of the vinaigrette until coated. Place on greased grill over medium heat; close lid and grill until charred and tender, 4 to 6 minutes for asparagus, 10 to 12 minutes for peppers and zucchini. Cut into large chunks and return to bowl.

Add remaining dressing, quinoa, half of the feta cheese, the pumpkin seeds and cilantro; stir until incorporated. Sprinkle with remaining feta. Serve immediately. Serves 6.

From the June 2011 issue of Canadian Living

Warm weather means salads, and this is a delicious pasta salad from a now-defunct restaurant that was in Perth, Ontario, called The Hungry Planet. This recipe is from a June 20, 2007 Ottawa Citizen article about the restaurant that included some of its popular recipes. I like it because it is easy to make, substantial, and filled with lots of my favourite ingredients, including shrimp, olives, feta and basil.

Saute shrimp or grill on the barbecue

Assemble all the ingredients in a large bowl

Add pasta, dressing and serve

To avoid additives and preservatives in this recipe, use olives with no preservatives added. I used Pilaros brand green olives stuffed with garlic, which are available at Costco. Check the label on the feta cheese and shrimp to make sure they are all-natural. Balsamic vinegar usually has sulfites added; try to find one that has only naturally occurring sulfites.


2 to 3 large, ripe juicy tomatoes

½ medium red onion, thinly sliced

1 cup pitted green olives, coarsely chopped

2 tsp minced garlic

1½ cups crumbled feta cheese

1 lb. cooked and cooled shrimp

4 tbsp chopped Italian parsley

4 tbsp shredded fresh basil

1 tsp dried oregano

1 lb. short pasts (such as penne), cooked, drained, but still warm

½ cup fruity extra-virgin olive oil

4 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Dried chili pepper flakes


In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, onion, olives, garlic, feta, shrimp, parsley, basil and oregano. Toss with warm pasta and fess with the oil and vinegar, to taste. Add chili flakes, if desired. Add salt if needed. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

From the June 20, 2007 Ottawa Citizen

This is my first post in about 10 days, due to the fact that we just returned to our house in Almonte for the summer. We love the apartment, but I am delighted to be back in my house kitchen, with my beloved gas stove. And I am over the moon about being able to barbecue again for the first time almost five months. There is also tarragon in the garden, so I decided to make Chicken Skewers with Tarragon-Pistachio Pesto from the April 2011 issue of Bon Appetit. It is dead easy to make: thread chicken, onion, red pepper and lemon slices on skewers; whirl parsley, tarragon, pistachios, lemon juice, garlic and oil in the food processor to make the pesto; brush some of the pesto on the skewers, and grill. The recipe calls for chicken tenders, but I used chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces.

Tarragon-pistachio pesto

Grill the skewers until the chicken is cooked and the vegetables are tender

Serve the remaining pesto with the cooked skewers.

Chicken Skewers with Tarragon-Pistachio Pesto

To avoid additives and preservatives in this recipe, use all-natural pistachios and fresh lemon juice.


½ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon

2 tablespoons unsalted natural pistachios

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 medium garlic clove, peeled

¼ cup olive oil

16 1-inch pieces red onion (1/3 inch thick)

16 1-inch squares red bell pepper

8 lemon slices, halved

1 pound chicken tenders (about 8 large)

Special equipment – 8 metal skewers


Puree first 5 ingredients in processor. Add ¼ cup olive oil and blend until slightly coarse paste forms. Mix in 2 tablespoons water. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer 3 tablespoons pesto to small bowl (for brushing chicken and vegetables); reserve remaining pesto.

Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Brush grill with oil. Thread 1 onion piece, 1 bell pepper square, 1 lemon slice half, 1 chicken tender (lengthwise), then 1 onion piece, 1 bell pepper square, and 1 lemon slice half alternately on each of 8 skewers. Brush vegetables and chicken on skewers with olive oil, then with 3 tablespoons pesto from small bowl. Sprinkle skewers with salt and pepper. Grill until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are slightly softened, 6 to 8 minutes per side. Serve with reserved pesto. Serves 4.

From the April 2011 issue of Bon Appetit