The timing of my discovery of this recipe was perfect, because I was looking for winter-friendly cold salads, I had all of the ingredients on hand, and it helped me clear out my pantry. I’ve made this for pot lucks, picnics, and packed lunches. I hope you’ll try it for yourself.
Archive for the ‘Sides and Sauces’ Category
Marsala is an Italian, fortified wine that is very similar to Spanish sherry and madeira. All of these wines are great for cooking. I love the flavour and subtle sweetness of this sauce, and I love the simplicity and versatility of the recipe. Marsala sauce pairs nicely with chicken, pork, and steak. The meat is usually cooked in the sauce, but since I love to batch cook, I usually make the sauce separately from the meat and freeze the leftovers.
I was first introduced to peperonata at a restaurant that used it as a topping for bruschetta. I then learned that peperonata is either served as a side dish or with sliced bread. I adapted an authentic, Italian (Sicilian) recipe to recreate the version that I had at the restaurant, so that I could serve it on top of toasted baguette slices for a party. If you prefer a more authentic version, cut the bell peppers into large chunks, add tomatoes, simmer longer, and allow it to be more liquidy.
Please believe me when I say that these are the absolute best store-bought pickles on the market. Burgenland’s Gurken Prinz pickles/gherkins/cornichons have the perfect balance of sweetness and acidity. Note that these are smaller than dill pickles and larger than most gherkins/cornichons. Years ago, I tried one for the first time at a friend of a friend’s house party. After taking one bite, I looked at him with wide eyes and said, with urgency, “Who made these pickles and where can I buy them???”. I never forgot them and recognized the brand immediately, even years after that party. I couldn’t believe my luck when I spotted them at Costco. I looked for these pickles in countless independent and specialty grocery stores… of course Costco had them. All good things come from Costco. 😉 I really hope you get the chance to try them, and if you know a better brand, be sure to let me know!
In Korean cuisine, small flavourful side dishes are often served with each meal. This broccoli is one of those delicious Korean side dishes that can also be enjoyed as a cold salad. This would be a great accompaniment for kalbi (BBQ beef short ribs) (see recipe here), or jap chae (see recipe here).
I’ve made this delicious and authentic Italian bolognese sauce twice now, and I’ve learned a few things about how to make this sauce even better. First of all, don’t use finely ground meat. You will get the best results in texture if you grind the meat yourself using a food processor fitted with a metal blade. The store ground meat ends up feeling and tasting gritty. Secondly, the quality of the canned tomatoes that you use makes a huge difference. For best results, use san marzano tomatoes if you can afford it. Though not necessary to make a delicious sauce, it will make a huge difference in tomato flavour. (I found very affordable cans of san marzano tomatoes at Costco.) Lastly, this sauce is delicious when made with lamb, too. So feel free to try making this using beef, lamb, or a combination of beef and pork. This recipe makes a large batch of sauce and is an easy way to cook for a large group. I made this for dinner for 9 people and there was enough for everyone to have seconds. The sauce is freezer friendly and the recipe can be halved.
I have dozens of frozen egg yolks that I would love to use up. (See here for how to freeze eggs and other ingredients.) But I don’t want to make any more desserts, so I have been looking for new savoury recipes that require egg yolks. This egg yolk vinaigrette only uses up 1 egg yolk, but it’s a delicious start. 🙂 You can use it as a dip for vegetable sticks, or as a dressing on leafy salads or cold, cooked vegetable salads. (The caesar dressing recipe here also uses an egg yolk.)
I never understood why people like cabbage rolls until my friend Joana made Romanian cabbage rolls. This is the same friend that changed my mind about polenta, by the way (see my soft polenta recipes here). I am so so grateful that Joana introduced me to Romanian cabbage rolls, because I am in love with them! They are truly the best cabbage rolls that I have ever tasted. The main difference between Romanian cabbage rolls and other cabbage rolls is that the Romanian ones are made with pickled cabbage. You can find vacuum sealed whole heads of pickled cabbage in European grocery stores. Joana’s recipe is also great because she uses a blend of different types of meat. Although they are easy to make, I don’t make them often, because rolling all of those cabbage rolls can be time-consuming. I hope you won’t be discouraged, because this recipe makes a very large batch that happens to be freezer-friendly. With the colder weather moving in, I knew that I couldn’t put off making these any longer. These are great to make for pot lucks or when feeding a crowd, because they can be served warm or cold.
Sour cream is one of my favourite condiments, but I feel guilty buying it for two reasons: 1. it’s unhealthy and high in calories, and 2. I often end up wasting food, because I have trouble using up an entire container before the expiration date. So you can imagine my excitement when I watched chef Rocco DiSpirito share his healthy sour cream substitute on tv a few years ago. It only requires 2 ingredients: cottage cheese and white vinegar/lemon juice. I have to admit, I was very doubtful that anything could even come close to tasting like sour cream. When I first tried it, I was expecting to be as disappointed as the first time I ever tried vegan cheese, but it was amazingly similar to sour cream. You just need to have the equipment to get the texture completely smooth (I used a mini food processor). You can make as little or as much as you want and you don’t have to feel guilty eating it.
Did you know that you can eat broccoli leaves? Until I started growing broccoli in my garden, I had no idea 1. what a broccoli plant looked like and 2. that the large leaves were edible and delicious. You can cook them the same way you would cook collard greens. Simply remove the stems and thick ribs, chop the leaves up as desired (I like to roll the leaves up and then slice them thinly crosswise), and then you can steam them, boil them, grill them, saute or stir fry them. You can add them to soup and you can even use them, in lieu of cabbage leaves, to make rolls. Young and tender broccoli leaves can also be eaten raw in salads. On a side note, if you are planning on growing your own organic broccoli, be warned that they become infested with hundreds of tiny gray bugs and spiders. We were too disgusted to eat any of the broccoli crowns, even though they had the most rich broccoli flavour I’ve ever tasted. We will never plant broccoli again!
My favourite way to cook collard greens and broccoli leaves is to saute them with bacon and garlic. Cook 4 slices of smoked bacon in a large saute pan over medium heat until crispy. Remove the pieces of bacon, break them up into small pieces and set aside. Add minced garlic and sliced broccoli leaves to the hot pan with bacon grease. Cook, stirring frequently until the broccoli leaves are tender and still a bit crisp. Add salt and pepper to taste and, if desired, add a small splash of vinegar. Continue to stir until all of the vinegar has evaporated (if using). Stir in the crispy bacon pieces and serve immediately.
This is a healthy, vegetarian-friendly and dairy-free side dish that is surprisingly delicious. It is full of flavour, it has great texture, and it’s something unexpected. Everyone that has tried it has been pleasantly surprised, too. I found this recipe in a cookbook that I won in a baking contest. I am really glad that I tried it, because it’s not something that would normally entice me. I hope that you’ll try it, too. Let me know what you think of it!
For a while, I was obsessed with watching TLC’s show, Extreme Cheapskates. In this show, people go to revolting, albeit sometimes creative, extremes to save money. Surprisingly, I picked up a good salad dressing tip from one of the episodes. 🙂 When you finish a jar of jam, before you wash the jar and recycle it, make a salad dressing in the still-slightly-jammy jar. This will not only add sweetness and a hint of fruit flavour to your dressing, it will also save you from having to wash additional dishes. Of course, this also reduces your food waste.
To make your salad dressing: Add some vinegar/lemon juice, olive oil, and mustard powder/dijon mustard to the almost empty jam jar. (Note: A good starting ratio is 1:5 for vinegar/lemon juice to extra virgin olive oil. The mustard helps emulsify the dressing.) Screw the lid on tightly, shake vigorously until the dressing is well mixed, and then adjust the ingredients to taste. For example, you might want to add additional vinegar, a pinch of salt and/or black pepper, honey/maple syrup, etc.