week 48

FRIDAY date night
SATURDAY shrimp corn cakes + jicama slaw
SUNDAY croque monsieur + grated carrot salad
MONDAY shanghai cod with udon noodles + smashed cuke salad
TUESDAY taco salad
WEDNESDAY tomato crostini + steak frites + green beans in escargot butter
THURSDAY fajitas

for the first time in never, i cooked exclusively from cookbooks or cooking magazines all week! not exactly newsworthy, but i’d noticed a pattern of buying more cookbooks and yet still only cooking from printed-off-the-internet recipes. well done, me!

first up was a meal from the rebar modern food cookbook. if you’re not familiar with the almost vegetarian restaurant rebar, in victoria on vancouver island, i would recommend you become so. we’ve only had the fortune to dine there a handful of times but their food has inspired me to cook a few meals from their menu (almond burgers and wild rice salad are two i’ve made recently). so i was well pleased when my sweet daughter bought me their cookbook as a “just because” gift. these shrimp corn cakes took me forever to make and i must admit i was ridiculously disappointed when we finally sat down to eat. the cakes didn’t stay together super well and i was unsure if i’d even prepared them correctly. that said, when i had a couple the next day for lunch, i was reassured as to how delicious they are and it just got me to thinking how i’d do them only a tad differently next time. these would certainly be perfect fancy dinner party appies. i was serving the shrimp corn cakes as a main dish so roasted some yam wedges to go with, in addition to this very delicious and easy to make vegetable slaw from the same book.

shrimp corn cakes
adapted from rebar modern food cookbook by audrey alsterburg & wanda urbanowicz
serves 4-5 as a main dish; 7 as an appetiser

2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced
1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 small red onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small red pepper, finely diced
½ tsp salt
1½ cups fresh or frozen corn (i went the frozen route)
6 scallions, minced
1 lb fresh shrimp [i found this to be a vague ingredient item. i used frozen medium large (31-40/lb) that i’d thawed, removed the tails and left whole]
2 tsp dried dill weed
¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
¾ tsp tabasco sauce
2 eggs, beaten
1½ cups fresh breadcrumbs, lightly toasted (or just regular dried breadcrumbs)
1½ cups pumpkin seeds (pepitas), toasted and finely ground
veg oil, for pan frying

combine minced jalapeños and cream in a small pot and bring to a boil. reduce to low and simmer until cream is reduced to ¼ cup. cool to room temp.

meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium hight heat and saute the onion, garlic and red pepper until softened. add the corn and salt and cook just long enough to heat the corn through. transfer to a bowl and cool.

add the scallions, shrimp, dill, black pepper and tabasco to the cooled corn mixture. add jalapeño-cream reduction and mix in thoroughly. season to taste. stir in beaten eggs and cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate one hour.

add the breadcrumbs to the shrimp mixture and mix well. form 3 oz handfuls of the mix until 2 ½” round cakes, coating them in the ground pumpkin seeds. cover and refrigerate for up to an hour or cook right away. [i cooked right away but think they would benefit from some chilling]

give your large skillet a good wipe and set it on medium high heat. add a bit of oil and pan-fry the cakes, a few at a time so as not to overcrowd your pan — these things are rather fragile so give yourself enough room to manoeuvre them. cook until golden on both sides. transfer to paper towel-lined plate while cooking remaining.

vegetable slaw with jalapeño-lime dressing
adapted from rebar modern food cookbook by audrey alsterburg & wanda urbanowicz
serves 4

½ lime, zested and juiced
1 ½ tbsp rice vinegar
1 ½ tsp agave
1 small garlic clove, minced
¼ tsp salt
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
¼ tsp ground coriander
¼ cup light olive oil
3 tbsp grapeseed oil (or all of one or the other, or other neutral vegetable oil)

½ small head red or green cabbage, cored and shredded
1 very small jicama, peeled and julienned (approx 1½ cups)
1 large carrot, julienned (i find a julienning peeler works the best)
1 sweet red or yellow pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
½ bunch cilantro, stemmed and roughly chopped
2 tbsp minced chives

combine first 7 ingredients in a small food processor and blend till smooth. add oil(s) and blend again until emulsified. adjust seasonings and set aside.

toss all the shredded, julienned and sliced veggies into a large bowl and mix well.  add dressing and toss to combine. let sit for at least 30 mins, then toss again before serving.

i first learned what a croque monsieur was years ago watching it’s complicated. we must’ve watched that movie 20 times. hilarious but also rather drool-inducing. i remember spending forever online searching for any info i could regarding the food created for that film, specifically the chocolate cake and the croque monsieur. i finally found the actual recipes from the actual food stylist from the film but they didn’t actually taste anywhere near as amazing as they looked, so i kept looking, trying to find better and better recipes! now, my fave/go-to chocolate cake recipe is from bon appetit but it wasn’t until sunday night last week it became evidently clear that the croque monsieur i had been making was sorely lacking; i will only make it the david lebovitz way from now on.

croque monsieur (or madame*, as shown above)
adapted from my paris kitchen my david lebovitz
serves 4

2 tbsp butter, salted or unsalted
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1½ cup whole milk
big pinch kosher salt
pinch of cayenne &/or nutmeg

8 slices sourdough or country-style bread
8 very thin slices prosciutto
4-8 thin slices comté or gruyère cheese (i used comté), approx 20 g
½ cup butter, salted or unsalted, melted
1½ cup grated comté or gruyère cheese (i did a combo of both), approx 120 g

melt the 2 tbsp butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat and stir in the flour. when the mixture starts to bubble, cook for 1 min. whisk in ½ cup of the milk, stirring to get rid of any lumps, when whisk in remaining 1 cup of milk. cook for another minute or so, or until the sauce is thick and creamy. remove from the heat and stir in salt and spice(s); set aside to cool a bit. it will continue to thicken.

spread béchamel evenly over the 8 slices of bread. lay a slice of prosciutto over 4 of the bread slices, top them with the sliced cheee, and then top with remaining 4 prosciutto slices. finish with the 4 remaining slices of bread, béchamel side down, and brush the outsides of the sandwiches with the melted butter. it’s a lot but he knows what he’s doing.

turn on the boiler. heat your largest overproof frying pan or grill plan (with heatproof handle) over medium-high heat on the stove top.  if you can fit all 4 sandwiches in your frying pan, do so; otherwise, place 2 sandwiches in the frying pan, cover with a sheet of tin foil, then rest a heavy object, such as a cast iron pan, on top to weigh the sandwiches down. cook for a few minutes until the bottoms of the sandwiches are brown. remove weight and foil, flip sammies over, replace foil and weight and continue cooking until the other side is browned.

remove weight and foil and, if you only cooked 2 sandwiches, transfer them to a paper towel lined plate or tray. repeat with last 2 sandwiches.

sprinkle ¼ of the grated cheese on each sandwich. put pan under the broiler and broil the sandwiches until the cheese melts. repeat with remaining sandwiches if necessary.

*if you are part of the “put an egg on everything” club, while the sandwiches are broiling, fry an egg for each sandwich, as appropriate. slide the egg(s) on top of the sandwiches after you plate them. voila! a croque madame!

my son just recently turned 21 and, although he rarely eats with us these days, he still requested that i make shanghai fish. too bad he wasn’t home to eat with us when i made it! it’s so nice to eat cooler temperature foods when the weather is boiling hot outside. traditionally this dish is served cold, but i prefer it room temperature. this is really an appetiser but i boil up some udon noodles to stretch it into a main course meal. by the time i get the freshly cooked cod (they suggest hake or pollack but i love cod) onto the bed of cooked and rinsed noodles and drizzle the ridiculously delicious star anise sauce on top, the fish has cooled the perfect amount. served this with an asian smashed cucumber salad for the first time and it was the perfect accompaniment. yum!

i was blown away by how delicious this taco salad was. i knew the “meat” was actually quinoa and black beans, but it tasted exactly the same as ground beef cooked up with those taco seasoning packets — only no weird ingredients/chemicals! i loved it! i have a suspicion this will become a favourite, both to cook and eat! i did make a couple changes: completely nixed the fried tortilla strips, simply cos…. to me, they don’t add anything to a dish so why bother; as well i julienned some jicama rather than radishes cos i had a bunch leftover from the veggie slaw above; and the greens i got from my garden. i also sprinkled with feta, as per the original recipe found in cookie + kate‘s amazing new vegetarian cookbook love real food, but if you’re vegan, you can certainly omit.

crostini.jpglast meal this week (sorry, we had to skip the fajitas; the leftovers were piling up #firstworldproblems) was again, inspired by the food52 cookbook club. i meant to make this amazing tomato crostini with homemade herbed “cheese” as a starter but i messed up the timing so we ended up eating it the steak frites and green beans with escargot butter. honestly, that crostini is one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. holy crap. and i didn’t even technically do it right! i couldn’t find the full fat goats milk yogurt called for so had to substitute with organic 2% cows milk yogurt. zero complaints here!

frites.JPGthe steak frites, on the other hand, were a massive disappointment. i was so prepared to absolutely love this entire meal so was sorely let down once i started eating. straight away, i should admit that we’re not rib-eye steak people. i know everyone in the foodie world eschews beef tenderloin, but that’s our jam and i probably shouldn’t have deviated. the mustard butter was incredibly flavourful and i know i would love it on tenderloin. the frites tasted fine but for the amount of effort, they should have been tastier, and not cooled off so quickly. from now on, when i need french fries, i will always turn to deb from smitten kitchen. she knows. lastly the green beans — and i love green beans — were just meh. again, perhaps my fault; i’d literally harvested all my garlic the day before i made this so used that for the escargot butter. maybe it should have been properly cured garlic. i dunno. i will definitely make this meal again, but by going the tenderloin, smitten, normal garlic route.





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