Roasted Tomato Crustini

Roasted Tomato Crustini

Hello all! I’ve been super busy lately with work, writing, and planning a beautiful trip to Europe! Oui, it is true! I am finally travelling overseas for my first trip to Paris and London. And with such cities as architecturally beautiful as Paris and London, one must also equip themselves with new accessories to capture these moments…like a new camera! Yes, on top of a trip to Europe (which my wonderful boyfriend has planned), I have ventured into the world of photography with my first DSLR camera, the Nikon 3100. Not only will I now be capable of capturing the lush green pasture of Paris’ Jardin du Luxembourg, but I will now have higher quality pictures for all of you readers to better present my delicious and fun recipes for you to view! On that note, I bring to you a little appetizer I created today in the midst of my daily mayhem – my Roasted Tomato and Buk Choy Crustini with Tzatziki Dressing.

Roasted Tomato and Buk Choy Crustini with Tzatziki Dressing
1 Large Roma tomato, thinly sliced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
12 pieces of thinly sliced baguette bread
12 Baby Buk Choy
1/2 cup Tzatziki Dressing
Handful of Basil
Handful of Thyme
Olive Oil
Sea Salt

Serves: 12 Crustini

1. Lay out the bread on a cooking sheet, and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle minced garlic evenly over pieces.
2. Preheat oven to 350F.
3. Next, dollop a small spoonful of Tzatziki Dressing onto each piece of bread.
4. After rinsing the Buk Choy, chop off ends and arrange leaves evenly on all pieces of bread.
5. Place 1 slice of tomato on each piece of bread; next, finely chop basil and thyme.
6. Sprinkle freshly cut herbs over bread and dash each piece with a pinch of sea salt; drizzle with olive oil once again.
7. Cook for about 10 minutes, then broil for about 2-3 minutes on 500F
8. Plate, and serve!

Bon Appetit!

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Wine-Poached Peach French Toast

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So this is what a computer looks like! I must apologize for my absence – between work, summer festivities and lack of access to a working computer, I’ve gotten a case of lazy-blogger. But I’m back, and filled with more fun summer recipes and fantastic Eats and Beats news to post about!

My next recipe comes to me with the inspiration of a juicy fruit dish that reminds me a little bit of Autumn mixed with sweet summer taste! Delicious just by themselves, topped over ice cream, coconut pie, or in this case, warm french toast – poached peaches are an aromatic dream full of spicy herbs and red wine goodness that is sure to be a crowd-pleasing accent to any outdoor party!

Wine-Poached Peach French Toast

Peaches:
6 ripe peaches, quartered
4 cups wine of your choice (I used a Rosé wine)
1/2 cup of sugar
2 cups water
2 cinnamon sticks /OR 1 table-spoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
aluminum foil
optional: 3 mint leaves, preferably chocolate

French Toast Assembly:
4 slices thick, texas-style toast
4 eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons milk
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon butter

Serves: 4 slices delicious french toast!

1. In a medium size pot, bring water, wine, sugar, cloves, and cinnamon sticks (and mint leaves) to a slight boil. Turn down the heat to medium.
2. Add in peaches, stir to coat. (I like to leave the skin on, but your more than welcome to peel the peaches)
3. Cover pot with tinfoil, and poke a couple small holes.
4. Let poach for about 20 – 25 minutes.
5. Remove foil, and transfer to a bowl to cool down.
6. Set aside in the fridge to save for a dessert or to snack on later! If not, read on : )

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7. In a shallow bowl, beat the eggs and add the salt, cinnamon and milk
8. Melt butter in a medium skillet until it just starts to bubble on medium heat.
9. Cooking two at a time, coat slices of bread in egg wash mixture. I like to leave mine soaking for about 20 – 30 seconds.
10. Cook both sides of bread in the skillet – adding more cinnamon on top if you prefer – until golden brown.
11. Transfer desired slices to plate and top off with handful of poached peaches! I love the peach juice to coat mine, but a dollop of maple syrup and whipped cream is a sweet touch to your dish!

Happy Eating!!

Frozen Banana and Peanut Butter Bites

Frozen Peanut Butter Sandwiches

Happy May! Finally, the warm weather is here, and what better way to cool off then with a crispy, cold, healthy snack! Everyone loves bananas. Everyone loves peanut butter. When you combine the two in a frozen bite-size snack – ultimate goodness! These are my Frozen Banana and Peanut Butter Bites : ) Topped with cinnamon and brown sugar, this makes the perfect sweet, and healthy, summer-time snack!

Frozen Banana and Peanut Butter Bites

2 Ripe Bananas
2 Tablespoons Cinnamon
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
1 1/2 cups Smooth Peanut Butter

Serves: 12 Sandwiches

1. Slice the bananas into thin pieces – this should amount to about 24 slices.
2. Place half the banana slices spread out on a baking sheet.
3. Dollop about half a teaspoon of peanut butter onto each slice. I use a piping bag for a more accurate effect, but to each their own.
4. Top off each banana slice with another to make a perfect little sandwich! Sprinkle each bite with cinnamon and brown sugar.
5. Place uncovered in the freezer for about half an hour, or when ready to eat. Placing these in the freezer will not cause the banana to freeze, but to simply harden. This is much less messy, and far more delicious!

Enjoy!

Steak and Smoked Salmon Crustini

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Here in Windsor it is April 24th – and still 40 degrees fahrenheit. By now, I have envisioned most of my cooking to consist of outdoor barbecue favourites, like Beef and Vegetable Skewers paired with a nice Garden Summer Salad and my Peach Champagne Bellini’s. But on this cold, rainy day I am forced to use my oven as my virtual barbecue. Despite my desire to cook in my bathing suit to, at least, fake myself into thinking we have hit hot weather.. I instead cooked up a baked Steak and Smoked Salmon Crustini with a Horseradish and Avocado Pesto. Delicious as an entrée paired with a Cucumber and Tomato Salad, or as a bite-size appetizer! Envision, and Enjoy!

Steak and Smoked Salmon Crustini

1 Grilled Medium-Rare Ribeye Steak, cut into thin pieces
1 French Baguette, sliced into 1-inch thick pieces
2 Avocados, halved and scooped out
3 teaspoons Horseradish Sauce
12 – 13 slices of thinly sliced raw Smoked Salmon (can be found at most supermarkets in packages)
3/4 – 1 cup shaved Parmigiano cheese
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Half of a lemon
3 cloves garlic

Serves: 12 Crustini’s

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. In a food processor or small blender, add the 4 halves of avocado, horseradish, garlic cloves, and juice of the lemon. Blend until smooth.
3. Lay out all pieces of sliced baguette (should be about 12 or 13) on baking sheet. Spread avocado and horseradish mixture across each piece.
4. Next, layer on one slice of smoked salmon for each piece, then pieces of steak, and Parmigiano cheese.
5. Bake for about 5 – 7 minutes, or until steak starts to bubble and pop.
6. Remove from oven, sprinkle with cilantro, and serve!!

TIP: Don’t overbake the crustini – as soon as you see the smoked salmon start to cook and turn white, it looses the texture.

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Yum!

Bacon, Broccoli and Shrimp Ricotta Stuffed Lasagna Rolls

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Do not let the title of this next recipe fool you..this is one of the easiest dishes I have ever made, and by far one of the most delicious! Perfect as an appetizer individually, or paired with a nice side of roasted vegetables, my Bacon, Broccoli and Shrimp Ricotta Stuffed Lasagna Rolls are just the perfect amount of cheesy goodness to satisfy your baked pasta craving…and who doesn’t love bacon? No one.

For the vegans and vegetarians, the great thing about baked and stuffed pasta is that the ingredients are always interchangeable! Instead of ricotta, shrimp, and bacon, a great alternative would be soy cheese and some delicious cooked vegetables that pair well with starch like butternut squash, sweet potato or asparagus. As for the pasta itself, most wheat pastas are actually vegan-friendly because they are made from Duram Semolina, which is essentially wheat flour. Only egg pasta noodles (like Gnocchi) contain dairy ingredients. So remember, any pasta that is made with Duram Semolina is vegan-friendly – just make sure to check the ingredients on the back of the box if your buying the noodles, just to be safe.

Bacon, Broccoli and Shrimp Ricotta Stuffed Lasagna Rolls

5 Lasagne Strips (As discussed in Pasta 101, lasagne is a singular noodle, lasagna is the dish when there are multiple noodles)
2×500 ml tubs Ricotta Cheese
1 bag of de-veined, de-shelled shrimp
10 – 15 strips uncooked bacon (depending on your bacon craving)
1 head of warm-blanched broccoli (slightly boiled for about 2-3 minutes)
4 cloves garlic, pressed and chopped finely
1/4 cup chopped parsley
3 tablespoons butter/margarine
3 cups of your choice of pasta sauce!
20 toothpicks

Serves: A meal for 3 – 5

1. Preheat oven to 375°F
2. In a large pot, bring unsalted water to a boil and place in lasagne noodles.
3. Meanwhile, in a separate skillet heat butter on low to a sizzle and toss in chopped garlic and shrimp.
4. With your lasagne noodles, you want to cook them until soft enough that they are flexible, but not to the point of mush. I usually leave them in about 4 minutes. I you still feel they are too al dente, don’t worry – the pasta sauce will soften them more. When the noddles are ready – take them out and lay them in casserole pan to dry and assemble, and then cut them in HALF – this means you will have TEN noodles.
5. Cook the shrimp until pink and no longer transparent. Adding more butter to the skillet for flavor is always an option : ) Once done, place shrimp in food processor.
6. Cutting off LARGE chunks, place the blanched broccoli in food processor as well.
7. Next, cook bacon in the same skillet as your buttered shrimp until well done. Once cooked, remove and immediately place strips in food processor.
8. Pulse the ingredients in the food processor JUST A LITTLE BIT – you want small chunks..not bacon, shrimp and broccoli dip.
9. In a separate bowl, fill with ricotta and parsley. Mix together.
10. Next, combine ricotta mixture and bacon, broccoli, and shrimp mixture.

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11. In the casserole pan where the noodles lay, roll each noodle into a small tube about 1 inch in diameter – secure and PIN with two toothpicks.
12. Using a small spoon, fill the pasta tubes with the filling mixture until slightly heaping, and then place each roll an inch apart in the pan.
13. Coat with sauce of your choice (I LOVE a good blush sauce), and bake for about 20 minutes or until mixture starts to bubble.
14. Serve, remove toothpicks, and Bon Appetit!

TIP: The reason why the seasoning is so minimal in this dish, is because I think there is so much flavor jam-packed into the filling with the shrimp, butter and bacon, that no extra herbs is necessary. It will only take away from the filling flavor. But, like all foodies, I have my preferences so feel free to add what YOU like!

Creamy Shrimp and Vegetable Salad

shrimpsalad
(image courtesy of madeinkitchen.tv)

I will be the first to admit, no advocate, that I despise any type of cream-based salad. Potato salad, macaroni salad.. not my cup of tea. But when I came across a seafood salad at a local hotel, it completely changed my perspective on my controversial opinion. I still distaste potato and macaroni salad…but I LOVE this version of shrimp salad that I conjured up, and I hope you will to!

Shrimp and Vegetable Salad

1 bag frozen de-veined and de-shelled raw shrimp
Half of a lemon
1 cucumber, peeled and diced into cubes
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1/4 cup fresh dill (3 teaspoon dried dill works fine too)
4 tablespoon light mayonnaise
1 tablespoon sugar
1 small carton cherry red tomatoes
Pinch of cayenne pepper

1. In a small skillet, slowly cook the shrimp. No olive oil, no butter. Just water. It seems odd, but it leaves the shrimp light, crisp, and fresh.
2. As the shrimp is slowly cooking, squeeze all the lemon juice you can from the halve over the shrimp. Save the the skin for later, as you will need about 2 teaspoons of grated lemon zest.
3. As the shrimp loses its transparency, take off the heat – the shrimp is nearly done.
4. Meanwhile, in a small bowl mix the mayonnaise, sugar, and cayenne pepper until blended together.
5. In a separate bowl, add the diced cucumber, carrots, and cherry red tomatoes.
6. Combine shrimp with the vegetables, then add the creamy mayonnaise mixture and blend well. After blended, add the parsley, dill and the lemon zest.
7. After everything is combined, refrigerate for a couple hours and then serve! Best served chilled : )

Serves: 2

TIP: You can replace/add any shelled seafood you would like to this dish (cooked properly beforehand of course). Shredded crab meat is also delicious in this recipe! For some extra fill, sometimes I use this mixture in a grilled tortilla with some sliced avocado as well.

Superb!

Scallops with Champagne Custard

Baked scallops
(image courtesy of saveur.com)

This recipe comes to us from Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard (See “A Little Love; A Little Lava..). With only 5 ingredients, this scallop recipe is sure to please any seafood lover – like myself. It’s a little bit of work, but trust me, the taste is WORTH IT.

Scallops with Champagne Custard

12 scallops, in their shells
3/4 cup of champagne (I prefer a sweeter one, but it’s entirely up to you)
3/4 cup of fish OR chicken stock
3/4 cup heavy cream
3 egg yolks

Serves: 3 – 4 as an appetizer

1. Shell and rinse the scallops to remove any dirt or sand; set aside in a bowl at room temperature.
2. Rinse the top half of each scallop and set aside for baking/serving.
3. Over medium heat in a small saucepan, reduce the champagne to about half; set aside to cool down.
4. In another saucepan, combine stock and any scallop juices and reduce to half.
5. Lower the heat and add the heavy cream; Quickly bring to just a boil, then take off the heat.
6. In a mixing bowl, mix the cooled champagne, add the egg yolks and whisk until foamy.
7. Slowly, add the cream mixture and whisk continuously – this is the beginning of your custard.
8. Transfer this mixture back to a saucepan, and over LOW heat, whisk custard until it coats the back of a wooden spoon (this may take 10 – 15 minutes).
9. Preheat the broiler.
10. Cut each scallop in half horizontally so you have two coins per scallop.
11. Arrange 6 shells per baking sheet, and top off the shells with a scallop coin and 1 – 2 tablespoons of the custard.
12. Cook each pan individually (6 halved scallops per pan = 4 pans) under the broiler for 1 – 2 minutes
13. Serve right away!

TIP: DO NOT rush the custard cooking time by turning up the heat – this may cause the custard to cook too fast and separate. Also, if you prefer your scallops to well done, precook the scallops in a saucepan before baking in the oven. Topping off the scallops with some chopped green onions or bacon bits can also add a nice kick to your flavor!

Enjoy!