I disappeared again. I do that sometimes. I wish I had an exhilarating reason why but I don’t. I was merely off tormenting myself to complete my novel. It was awful but somehow fulfilling and of course still incomplete. My mother poetically calls me, “a tortured creative soul,” I call myself completely neurotic. This is getting dark. I digress.
This past weekend I made a middle-eastern inspired feast for a few friends and I was damn impressed with myself. Chicken was bomb. Smoky Baba Ganoush was bomb. Tabouli was bomb. But the star of the show was by far this salad. If you are unaware, Halloumi is a semi-hard cheese with a high melting point so it can withstand frying and grilling. It’s dense, chewy and salty as fuck which pairs perfectly with the bitterness of the arugula and the sweet but tart dressing.
NOTE: the vinaigrette proportions might be slightly inaccurate because I free poured that shit like a boss. Please modify to your preference:
• ½ Cup POM Juice
• 2 TBSP Olive Oil
• 1 TBSP Red Wine Vinegar
• 1 TSP Honey
• ½ TSP Grainy Dijon Mustard
• 1 Small Shallot (finely minced)
• Salt and Pepper
Toss with arugula and serve with halloumi – pan fry, high heat for a 1 min per side.
I like to consider myself a dill pickle enthusiast. I was the gross kid eating pickles and olives out of jars while watching Jem marathons. My taste buds give zero fucks about sweets. So when my mother recently told me she made 30 jars of Polish pickles I booked the first train home. I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into the soft, meaty flesh of a huge stinky deli-style pickle. But to my horror she presented a jar of what looked like sweet pickles. Now, not to sound dramatic but my hatred for sweet pickles is real and has been deeply seeded since childhood, comparable to assholes people with olive aversions.
But the love I have for my mother exceeds any pickle variety so I agreed to try her concoction after I calmed down from my meltdown. They were crunchy, I liked that. I was mortified when I saw raw onions floating around the jar but was able to keep my cool. As for the flavor, I thought I was experiencing Ageusia. Is it possible for a pickle to be sweet and sour? My taste buds were confused similar to the time I tried hot and sour soup – I just can’t. It doesn’t make sense! But somehow I was intrigued; eating one after the other I finally concluded the unique juxtaposition of flavor was indeed delicious. I even ate and enjoyed the raw onion – when my mother wasn’t looking.
Colleen’s Sweet and Sour Pickles
Line up 6 sterile pint sized mason jars. Add a few onion pieces and 1 garlic clove to each jar. Fill half the jars with bite-sized chunks of cucumber. Add more onion pieces. Fill the jars with more cucumber, 1 clove of garlic and 1 stem of fresh dill. Fill jars with the below brine and seal.
Makes 6 pints – boil for 1 minute.
- 4 Cups of White Sugar
- 4 Cups of White Vinegar
- 1 Cup Water
- ½ Cup of Salt
Pesto is pretty easy to make – throw shit in a food processor and blend in olive oil. But in true fashion I succeeded to make a gigantic mess by deviating from the original method and using my NutriBullet. Everything blended well but into the consistency of baby food. I then used my mini food processor because I was too lazy to bring out the big bastard but it wasn’t powerful enough to chop everything finely. So I had one bowl of pesto slime and another of roughly chopped ingredients. After taking an essential wine and scream/cry break I combined the two concoctions into what passed as “rustic pesto.” I’m just making shit up now. Point is; use a proper food processor for this recipe.
2 Cups Fresh Basil
1 Cups Pine Nuts
2 Cloves of Garlic – you can add more but if you keep pesto in the fridge you will have regrets.
1 Cup Pecorino Romano Cheese
1 Cup of Olive Oil
1 TSP Lemon Zest
Juice of Half a Lemon
Pinch of Salt
Add all ingredients except for the olive oil in a LARGE food processor and chop finely. Keep machine on while slowly adding in the olive oil until your desired consistency. You can add more oil later; you want a bit of a pool on top.
Creamy Pesto: This was so amazing, I can’t believe I’ve never done this before. Add half of a cup of half and half cream and two heaping spoons of pesto into a pot and warm it up. The cheese in the pesto will thicken the sauce but I strongly encourage adding more – cheese makes life better.
To save you the time and exertion from a rage-induced comment, I will begin by acknowledging that my ramen recipe is influenced by but not traditionally a Japanese technique. Ramen has such a vast and rich history there is an entire museum dedicated to it. I won’t bequeath you a history lesson today but want my appreciation for the antiquity of this tradition to be known before I fuck it all up.
People in Toronto are cracked up on ramen – I haven’t seen such a huge food trend since pizza bagels. I’m assuming this fad is rampant in other North American cities but I’m marginally poor and have no money to travel. Honestly, living in such a culturally diverse city like Toronto I don’t really feel like I’m missing out on ethnic culinary experiences. Take for example the plethora of Japanese noodle houses popping up everywhere with Kenzo as the leader of the pack. I’ve been overindulging on the Sapporo Miso Ramen with ground pork – the miso based broth has a beer “essence.” I use essence insecurely because I’m sure there isn’t beer in it but you know how I feel about beer in my food – I dig that shit. So, I based my recipe on this bowl with the intention of adding beer to my broth but I only had white wine in the fridge which is why I appropriately call this, White Girl Ramen.
- 4 Cups of Water
- 2 Mushroom Bouillon Cubes
- 2 TBSP Miso Paste
- 1 TBSP Soy Sauce
- 1 TSP Sesame Oil
- Big Ass Splash of White Wine
The idea is to make your broth first, separately cook your additions and noodles then put it all together in individual bowls before serving. This would be great for a group of people who have different palates as the possibility of ingredients is endless. I added:
- Instant Noodles
- Ground Pork (no I didn’t, but I wanted to)
- Cremini Mushrooms
- Pea Shoots
- Green Onions
As mentioned, you can add whatever you want – knock yourself out!
This Greek Bruschetta is a version of a version of an original recipe I’ve never tried. My friend Lee made her version a few years ago and naturally I adjusted it to complement my own palate. What I like about this recipe is how fresh it is. The Bruschetta mixture isn’t placed on top of bread but is scooped up with warm pita triangles. Fresh lemon juice rounds out all the complimentary ingredients that burst with salty and tangy flavours. I use shallots in this recipe because of my intense aversion to raw onions – especially red or purple onions. Yuck. There are so many ingredients you can add or omit – knock yourself out!
- 1 small pint Grape Tomatoes
- 10 – 15 pitted and chopped Kalamata Olives
- Crumbled Feta Cheese (as much as you want)
- 2 cloves of Garlic
- 1 medium Shallot
- 1 – 2 squeezed Lemons (add to taste)
- Tiny splash of Olive Oil
- Tiny pinch of Salt
Just chop, mix and serve.
TIP: I pit olives by cutting one side off then pinch out the pit.
Living in small spaces can often be challenging. The trick is minimalism, if that’s your thing. I like clean, airy spaces with a few pieces of furniture and artwork. I try not to have anything standing on the floor like large vases, baskets, etc. It’s also easier to clean because I rarely have to move anything around when sweeping. I decorate my apartment for me because 95% of the time, I’m the only person there. But there are occasions when I have company and wished I had furniture that comfortably accommodated everyone. I’ve been struggling with whether or not to buy a bigger kitchen table but a bigger kitchen table requires more chairs and I don’t have the space to store them when they are not in use. I also just like what I’ve been using – a $30 piece of shit IKEA desk. It takes up minimal space and suits me just fine.
I tend to have some pretty crazy decorating ideas so I love cheap IKEA furniture – not all ideas are good ones. In this case I printed out a dozen sheets of drawn wood grain I found on the Internet, cut the pieces to fit and used Mod Podge to seal them to the surface. Because the paper was thin, it rippled up but when it dried it gave the top a faux wood texture. The only thing left to do is protect the top so I might buy a fitted piece of glass or not because I’m marginally poor.
While everyone is busy canning tomatoes, I’m freezing them. Why? Because I’m incredibly lazy and in denial; hence purchasing an enormous bushel of tomatoes with the expectation of canning all 54,681 of them. It’s also important to add that I do this every single year. Not only is canning a huge time suck, it’s messy and often dangerous. That’s my excuse, because honestly, caning freaks my shit out.
I normally freeze flat small batches that stack well and save space but I’m single and have nothing in my freezer other than edamame and coffee so this year I froze larger batches. Rounder batches also fit better in a pot, if you don’t have time to thaw it. I find rectangular pieces of frozen anything are always awkward.
Stewing Tomatoes isn’t Rocket Science so I’ll Break it Down into Bullet Points
- Blanch tomatoes until the skin splits. The time depends on how many tomatoes you have in the pot so my rule is: as soon as it splits, take that shit out.
- Some people let their boiling hot tomatoes cool before they skin them but I have zero patience for that. I run one under cold water, skin it, cut out the green nipple and throw that hot bastard in a large pot.
- Once you have a full pot of tomatoes, add salt and stew for an hour.
- Let cool and double bag your batches. Sometimes I let the pot sit for 24 hours for more flavour.
How many times have I cursed while trying to peel away the utterly useless foil cap when opening a bottle of wine? How many nails have I sacrificed while picking away at tiny bits of foil? How many times have I stabbed my thumb with the dull knife attachment on my mediocre corkscrew? How many real life tears have been shed after a hard day of work when I just can’t get that fucking foil off my GD bottle of wine? I’m getting anxiety just thinking about it.
Now imagine my astonishment when I was performing all of the above in Scotty’s kitchen when he simply took a knife, ran it up the side of the foil cap and watched as it slipped right off. My jaw dropped. I was speechless. I gave him cut-eye and then wondered WHY have I never thought of this my entire drinking career?!
I don’t have a step-by-step guide or video on how to do this because I only have two hands and I often drink alone. I think it’s self-explanatory, just remember – only perform this magic trick with a sharp knife.
Also, this wine is delicious and under $15. It’s rich and deep with major hits of vanilla and sometimes orange (maybe.)
Where I come from, we eat a lot of fish, mainly Perch. My Uncle Bob is retired and goes fishing EVERY SINGLE DAY so we get that shit fresh. Naturally, everyone has their own way of cooking Perch but for me there is only one way – fish fry. If you’re lucky and don’t have to gut and clean the fish then this process is super quick and easy. Egg Wash + Coating + Deep Fry = Delicious.
Soak fish for a few minutes in an egg wash. My Aunt Linda uses, egg and milk. My father uses egg and water. When you’re ready to coat the fish, flip it in the egg wash a few times (don’t be a nerd, use your hands!) and transfer it to your plate of coating. My Aunt Linda uses Saltine Crackers that she runs through her food processor. My father uses Sylvia’s Fish Fry Mix or sometimes the Fried Chicken Mix. Dust off any excess coating and drop that shit in some hot ass oil.
My Uncle uses a modest deep fryer called, Fry Daddy and my father uses a propane tank attached to an open flame burner like a lunatic. I recommend the Fry Daddy. Using Conola Oil and carefully following the instructions, deep fry small batches of Perch for 10 minutes and let sit on a bed of paper towel for 5 minutes. I also recommend doing this outdoors.
Sometimes I squeeze some fresh lemon on top or whip up some tartar sauce:
- 1 Cup of Mayo
- 3 Dill Pickles, chopped
- 2 TBSP of Capers, chopped
- Half of a Lemon, squeezed
You could also add:
- Smoked paprika
- Fresh dill
- Hot Sauce
Can we also talk about how cute my Aunt Linda’s Hens and Chicks are? Totally stealing this idea next year.
I was introduced to Ceviche only a few years ago – I was a sheltered child. I’ve always appreciated when someone else made it but never tried to make it myself, I’m not so much a fan of chopping a million ingredients. But this was super easy and heat free which is perfect for hot summer days. Scotty didn’t try it because he is “allergic,” to (never tried) seafood but he did help squeeze 15 limes. It really cuts time if you have a lime juicer which we didn’t. This is the one I use.
- 1 – 2 lbs of Tiger Shrimp, Raw
- Half Pint of Cherry Tomatoes
- 15 Limes
- 2 Cloves of Garlic
- 1 LRG Shallot
- Handful of Fresh Cilantro
- ¼ Thai Pepper or Other
- Pinch of Sea Salt
Peel, rinse and chop tiger shrimp. Add to a non-reactive bowl, such as glass. Add the juice of the limes and shallots, cover and refrigerate for an hour or until the shrimp cook. The lime juice “cooks” the shrimp, they will turn pink when done. Chop and stir in the rest of the ingredients, cover and refrigerate for another hour or at least 30 minutes. I was nervous to add the garlic as it might have overpowered the dish but it didn’t. Even when left over night in the fridge the garlic was mellow, in fact it was better the next day.