Tag Archives: food

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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I Bought Into It…

Hunger Games mania, that is. I read the trilogy. Bought the “I Shop at the Hob” tote bag and “Team Finnick” t-shirt. I’m so trendy and lame. The excitement that has surrounded this first movie is unbearable. All day at work, my staff was talking about going to see the movie (these are adult, healthcare professionals, mind you). I bought tickets online days ago, just so I knew I would be able to see it Friday night.

Its bad, I know...

Something really amazing did come from all of the movie hype though. The pediatric oncology wing of the hospital where I work, held a Hunger Games Competition and Party. The patients were able to participate in a variety of activities and I had asked if I could make cupcakes. I made 75 mini cupcakes. Some had little chocolate dipped arrows w/ coconut fletching. Others had different symbols pertaining to the Hunger Games.

I did make these the night before....

You can see in the pictures that some of the icing was beginning to melt. When I brought them to the event room at work, they told me they wouldn’t fit in the refrigerator. So I had to leave the majority of my 75 cupcakes sitting out . I wasn’t pleased.

Regardless of the state of the icing, the kids loved them.

The icing is orange cream (homemade, which is probably why it melted) and I piped it over dark chocolate mini cupcakes. The “sprinkles” are actually flavoured sugars that I learned how to make! The red is pomegranate, the orange is orange, and the yellow is just yellow sugar.

The kids seemed to have a blast. The majority of the cupcakes were gone halfway through the program. The ceiling had been decorated with silver parachutes that each held a take home bag of candy. They had signs that said “Mellark Bakery,” “The Hob,” and my favourite saying in the book.

I donated some Hersey’s kisses, that I adorned with the same Hunger Games decorations as the cupcakes. The kids ate those up! They loved the little details, which really made the party fun.

I loved these. Though I hated making them.

We also had water bottles that were wrapped in Hunger Games labels. The kids loved them so much, they said they were going to take them home and reuse them for the movie premiere later on.

Oh so chic.

The party was a big hit and I definitely got my Hunger Games appetite sated. Seeing all of the kids enjoying themselves so much was a really wonderful experience!

I am planning on seeing the movie Friday night. My cousin is going with me since she thought that being pregnant meant she couldn’t stay up until midnight for the premiere. Le sigh… The one time that I want to do something fun and it gets squashed!

Question(s): Did you read the series? Are you going to see the movie? Were you caught up in all the hype?

The Good Pasta

I recently purchased a pasta machine, after the Kitchen Aid attachment destroyed the last batch of pasta I tried to make. This particular machine worked flawlessly (though it was difficult to clean after).

I was super excited to make fresh pasta for dinner. I built up the pasta all day. I kept texting my cousin, telling her how amazing dinner was going to be. She humored me.

Venturing out to the grocery store to find Semolina flour was fairly uneventful, but disaster struck when there was not a bag to be found. I thought about going to Whole Foods, but decided to just make do with the flour the store had. It turned out to work just as well, though I want to try King Arthur “Perfect Pasta” blend next.

After I arrived home, I set to work prepping the work area.

The recipe that I followed for making the pasta dough was:

3/4 lb whole wheat flour
3 large eggs
1 egg yolk
4 Tbsp warm water
1 tsp olive oil

I’m not sure where the recipe actually comes from, as it was the recipe that my mother had written in my recipe book. I don’t remember if it’s the recipe my mother used when making pasta and I know it’s not my babcia’s recipe.

I made a well in the center of the flour and started folding the eggs in one at a time. I made sure the eggs were at room temperature before I added them to the flour and then used a fork to make the base for the pasta. After 5-7 minutes of kneading, I had a wonderful dough ball.

I wrapped the dough in plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator until 30 minutes before I was ready to cook it. Around 35 minutes before dinner was suppose to be ready, I divided the dough into four equal portions. Then, I rolled out each portion until they were small rectangles that would easily pass through the machine. When they were thin enough, I attached the fettuccine cutter and made my first long pasta pieces! I then used the pasta drying rack that came with the machine. The pieces hung to dry until I was ready to put them in the water to boil.

Now, there should be pictures of it cooking. There should also be pictures of it sauced on the plate. Guess what? There aren’t. Why? Because I forgot. I was so busy baking the bread for bruschetta, making the tomato topping, shelling peas, creaming herb butter and simmering the basil sauce for the pasta, that I forgot.

I will tell you that it was delicious. Everyone thought it was amazing and begged me to make pasta in the future. I think that my next pasta project will be herb-layered pasta sheets for ravioli. And I promise I will take more pictures!

Question(s): Have you tried making your own pasta? Willing to share some recipes?

Persian Nights

Even though I was feeling under-the-weather, thanks to Ewa and the sketchy burritos she brought home, I was invited to attend a small get together at a colleagues home. They were celebrating his wife’s first commissioned painting and invited me over for a night of amazingly delicious Persian food.

Even though I have had Persian food before, I have never actually had any made specifically for me. We have always gone to a restaurant or tried some at a friends party. This was the first time that I had dishes made especially for me! My co-worker’s wife started off with saffron tea (chia/chai) and shirini :

The tea was exceptional. It had a strong flavour with hints of saffron and his wife showed us the “Iranian way” to add sugar to the drink. Instead of placing the sugar cube directly in the tea, you put place the cube between your front teeth and bite down with just enough pressure to hold it. Then you take small sips and let the tea wash over the sugar cube, which then sweetens the tea as you drink it. The sugar she gave us wasn’t ordinary sugar either, she had all kinds of flavoured sugars (which I neglected to take a photo of!). I particularly liked the rosewater sugar, but she also had vanilla, saffron, cardamom, anise and lime. each of the sugars was pressed into a delicate little shape. The rosewater “cubes” looked like roses, the vanilla like little gold domes. The first one to go was the leaf-shaped lime flavored sugar, followed shortly by the vanilla. She gave me some of the cardamom sugar to take home and I look forward to using it in my daily tea.

The cookies that she had set out with the tea were amazing. Shirini (sweets) were surprising. She had made two flavors, coconut and walnut. I tried the walnut first and it was similar to meringue in consistency, but outrageously delicious. It was so light and flavourful and I complimented her on the ability to make something so tasty, but so delicate. The coconut one was just as wonderful and I actually liked it more. I so wanted to take a huge box of them home, but I also don’t want to detox again after overdosing on Persian sweets.

After the tea, she brought out torsu (pickled vegetables) and we sampled those until the main courses arrived. As a vegetarian, I was a little worried that I may have to eat some meat dishes since I didn’t want to offend anyone. When the main courses arrived, the non-vegetarians had joje kabob, ghorme sabzi, hummus, olives, barbari bread, grilled vegetables, zafrani pulao, and  salad-e shirazi.

The food smelled amazing and she had even put some food into to-go containers, so that way we could take it take to families (or in my case, back home for devouring later). As a vegetarian, however, I was presented with my own special dish:

The salad was kefir cheese, hummus, cucumbers, red/green pepper, onion, olives, feta cheese and chopped herbs. I also had some of the shirazi salad and barbari bread. The warm bread was a perfect compliment to the salad and my cousin let me try some of her ghorme sabzi after she had eaten all the lamb. I also had a small dish of rice, sprinkled with saffron and container of hummus topped with olives.

The entire meal was fantastic and I could not thank all of them enough. Everyone who was at the dinner (a bunch of rowdy Persians!) appeared to have a lot of fun and I felt bad that we had to kind of “eat and run” because I was not feeling well. It did piqué my interest in Persian cuisine, so I signed up for a Persian cooking class at the end of the month and a cheese-making class in mi-February (which I may end of missing).

It was a great evening and I can’t wait to have them over to my house for a Polish dinner! I am already planning the menu and getting excited!

Question(s): Have you ever taken a cooking class before? What was the course over? Do you still use the recipes/techniques that you learned?

Mmm, Mmm, Good!

A few days ago, I was in the middle of a not so great week. I was moping around and in a generally bad mood. It was really a culmination of things that had gotten me to that point, but I was being a brat to everyone anyway.

Then I decided to go out and get some dinner with a friend who was in town. It was an extremely short dinner (since I had to get back to work), but I was able to do a quick catch up over sushi. Halfway through the first roll I stopped and snapped a picture


I actually made my friend stop eating so I could take a photograph of our food. It was this action that made me realize I had a slight obsession.

Slight is an understatement, however, as I went through the pictures saved on my phone and found over 50 pictures of food.


I apologized to my friend and felt a little embarrassed. She was completely cool about it and said that she use to do the same thing. She showed me an album on her phone titled “My Secret Shame” which was filled with photos of food.

After my apology I asked her if she shared the pictures with anyone and she told me that she use to post them on Facebook and then realized it probably made her seem strange to potential guys so she stopped.

Should I stop? It doesn’t really do any harm, it’s just a little strange that I can’t sit through a decent meal without thinking, “I need to get a picture of this!” Maybe it’s because the food always looks so pretty and then is devoured so quickly. I’m not sure why I do it, but I have my own “My Secret Shame” folder on my phone now.

Questions: Do you take pictures of your food? What do you do with the pictures?