Category Archives: Recipes

Creamy Curried Shrimp Salad (aka, Jamie Oliver’s Guilt Trip)

Being a physician tends to put a kibosh on any of my culinary adventures.  When I get home, I’m usually exhausted and want to exert as little energy as possible to put food in my belly. Over the years I have mastered the art of the cereal for dinner, perfected the 10 minute spaghetti and learned to love Lean Cuisine. The beep-beep of the microwave has become a comforting sound after a long day in the OR.

She looks very happy using the microwave. Almost TOO happy...

I do feel a little guilty though. Not to brag, but I am a pretty talented chef. Over the years I have taken a few classes and honed my skills throwing dinner parties for my limited group of friends. Whenever I begin to punch the backlit keys on the microwave, I hear Jamie Oliver in the back of my mind saying, “What are you doing? You have at least 45 minutes and I can put an entire meal together in 30! Why can’t you?!”

"Look at all of this! I made this in my SLEEP! What did you do today?!"

So today, I pulled out Mr. Oliver’s book and flipped through the barely worn pages. It’s a beautiful cookbook. Page after page of fresh, homemade menus and gorgeous photographs that detail the instructions. It’s food porn really. Delicious, intoxicating food porn…

I see you drooling. Don't try to hide it.

As I was flipping through, I kept reminding myself that I was also cooking for a very finicky pregnant woman. The dishes that looked delicious to me, I knew she might turn her nose up at. Since I had craved Indian food all week, I decided on something curried. I used the recipe for curry sauce in the cookbook, but instead of using Patak’s jalfrezi paste, I substituted the weird off brand that the Indian market close to me carries. I say “off-brand,” because the labels on the jar are written in a language I can not understand. The woman that runs the market, however, loves me and she recommended this paste.

"Eat this yellow paste in this jar. I promise it's good for your health!"

The dish is insanely easy to make. You mix the jalfrezi paste with some coconut milk, heat it until it gets thick and then pour it over your shrimp in a bowl. You can either choose to sauté the already cooked shrimp after or, if you’re like me, you can just eat it without sautéing it.

At this time, you should know that I have gone totally off the cookbook. I used Jamie Oliver’s curry sauce recipe to make the shrimp marinade, and then decided to just do my thing for the rest of the meal*.

Alright, back to the food.

After you have coated the shrimp with the curry mixture, add some yogurt to the bowl. I used pre-made raita, to which I added some celery, arugula, and jicama. Toss all of this together and set aside.

Yummy, yum, yum.

Next, I started putting together my side dishes. I wanted to make a bodega style menu, so I used bags of “Magic Masala” potato chips. Since I try to eat healthy, I put together a massive bowl of greens topped with chunks of paneer, canned chickpeas, tomatoes and some jicama. I also chopped up a cucumber and pepper that really needed to be used and mixed them with the left over raita.

The last touch to the meal was the bowl of fruit for dessert. Strawberries, blueberries and blackberries all covered with lemon juice. There was a mango as well, but Ev’s doesn’t like mango at the moment (pregnancy, I assume) so I will just eat it for lunch tomorrow.

Ripe for the eating.

When all the sides were completed (20-30 min), I sliced the hoagie rolls and laid red-tipped leaf lettuce inside each one. Then I filled the rolls with the curried shrimp mixture, topped it with a little curry powder and voilà!

Everyone had a nice helping of salad and we enjoyed the cucumber/pepper/raita mixture with our chips. The fresh fruit was the perfect finishing touch for the meal. I received accolades from my cousin’s boyfriend and he even asked if we could have this again.

Beautiful AND tasty!

Even though the thought of cooking after 10 hours seemed daunting, I’m glad that I sucked it up. It was really nice to have a sit-down dinner with everyone and the food was delicious. This entire meal really made me think about how much I love cooking. As happy as I am in the kitchen, I shouldn’t be content with a microwave meal every night. I am already looking through my other cookbooks, trying to decide meals for the next few weeks. I think I might try the “Spinach & Feta Filo Pie” from Jamie Oliver’s book next!

*I will put the entire recipe and the step-by-step instructions under the “Eats” section of the blog.

Question(s): How often do you prepare an entire meal? What 30 min (preferably vegetarian) meals do you suggest?

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Like Eating Glass

Because Halloween is my favourite holiday (and yesterday was hell), I decided to not only go all out for my costume this year, but also make fantastic baked goods. I had seen a really awesome recipe in Martha Stewart Living and wanted to bake my own.

For the cupcakes I made a red velvet base and added some dark chocolate chips to the batter as well. I used a cream cheese frosting recipe, but any white frosting would do. You want the “blood” to show up on the glass/frosting, so the lighter the better.

The glass is incredibly easy to make:

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup water

Combine in a saucepan and heat to a boil. As soon as it boils, reduce the heat to medium-high. Heat until the caramel reaches 300 F (150 C) and then pour immediately into a metal sheet pan that is sprayed with cooking spray. A metal sheet works best because it is flexible. Tilt the pan until the sugar mixture covers the bottom of the pan in a thin layer. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes and then break it with a spoon or the handle of a knife. I used a beat-up tray, so I didn’t feel bad twisting it and hitting it with utensils.

This was a lot of fun to make!

Then you take the glass, insert it (several pieces) into the top of the iced cupcake. The semi-finished product looks really fabulous:

Up close and personal with the cupcake

I ended up making 24 cupcakes, but four would not fit on the tray. I used the leftover “glass” to cover the bottom of the tray, to give them more “awesome points“:

I can't wait to see people's reactions to these!

Finally, you will need to drizzle “blood” over the glass for that super creepy effect:

Delicious blood (aka raspberry syrup)

20 cupcakes all in a row...

The syrup wasn’t as red as I was hoping for, but the overall effect is nice!

Also, this seems like an appropriate song for the post!

Happy Weekend Before Halloween!

Hallowe'en!

Recipes I Can Cook in My Sleep

Today my, “only living with me for a week” cousin, informed me over my lunch break that we would be having guests for dinner. She hadn’t asked if it would be alright, so I was a little peeved with her. Thankfully it was only three of her coworkers and they were laid back. I decided to make a vegetable soup recipe that I love and the dinner went swimmingly. I felt pretty good about throwing a delicious dinner together on such short notice and it was all because I have stashed away four, “go to” recipes which I thought I would share. These recipes are easy, quick and don’t need ridiculous ingredients.

1. Fish Tacos
– This recipe is fairly easy and the fact that it is highly customizable means you can make a variety of guests happy. I really like fish tacos because they are light, quick and it is often something people haven’t tried. I enjoy introducing people to new foods and this recipe is easy enough that I have used it on plenty of occasions.

Fish Taco leftovers make a great meal the next day!

2. Spinach Pesto

– One of the easiest recipes I have ever made. Its simplicity is what makes it so delicious. This particular pesto is low in calories and can be made in a matter of minutes. It is great when you need to fix lunch quickly or when you would rather showcase a side dish at dinner.

3. Vegetable Soup
– Do you have vegetables that you purchased at the Farmer’s Market that need to be used? Do you have a large stockpot? Then you have the main ingredients for this easy recipe. I often empty the contents of my crisper drawer for this recipe and it has never let me down.

Vegetable soup for the surprise guests.

4. Pierogi
– Not only can I make this recipe in my sleep, I think I learned how to make pierogi before I could even talk. The secret to a good pierogi is the dough/filling ratio. Make sure your pierogi aren’t too thick, but also that they don’t bust when you cook them.

Morel mushrooms make the best pierogi filling, but they are difficult to find and expensive.

Each of these recipes have saved me many times. I recently purchased four bins and filled each with the non-perishable ingredients used to make the above recipes. I figure that, if I ever find myself in a bind, I can grab one of those bins and quickly prepare a meal without having to look up a recipe! Since I used the vegetable soup recipe today, I will have to refill the bin for future use.

Question(s): Do you have go-to recipes that you know by heart? Willing to share?