Deconstructed Chef Salad

It’s been a few days since our last post, so I thought I’d put up two today.

Deconstructed Chef Salad

Deconstructed Chef Salad

The first is a quick meal we had last Monday. We’d intended to have falafels–not fresh cooked, never again We have a bag of frozen falafels we got at the grocery store. They’re not as good as you can find elsewhere, but they’re pretty good. And it’s a simple, healthy  meal; just cook them and add some fresh veggies, and you’re good to go

Only the ones we bought were very freezer burnt. (We really have no luck with falafels). And of course, because you basically only have to defrost the falafels, we didn’t notice it until all the vegetables were prepared. So we came up with a quick plan B: we boiled some eggs.

Harboiled eggs can be tricky until you get the hang of it–then they’re the easiest thing in the world. Nice to have in the fridge, they’ll keep for a few days; cut them up for breakfast, bring one for lunch for a quick bit of protein, or chop them and make egg salad. Or, as we did that night, make Chef Salad.

Here’s a fool proof way to hardboil your eggs:

  • Get six or seven eggs in a shallow pot, and cover them with water–about an inch over the top of the egg.You should put enough eggs in one pot that there’s not much room to move around; otherwise, the boiling water will jostle them and one or two are sure to break while cooking.
  • Add a half teaspoon of baking soda to the water; this lowers the pH level of the egg, which, believe it or not, will help the shell peel more easily. (Thanks to Tim Ferriss for this tip).
  • Bring the water to a boil, and let it boil for about twelve minutes.
  • Then, take them off the heat immediately and run under cold water in the sink, until all the water is as cold as you can get it. Add ice if you like. This will stop the cooking of the eggs. Then, peel and serve!

A chef salad is basically a nice garden salad with hard boiled egg and ham. We didn’t have any ham, but the amount of vegetables I prepared was more than enough for a meal.

As a bonus, here’s a neat video of how to quickly remove your hard boiled egg from the shell. (Note: I haven’t actually tried this yet…but now I can’t imagine any other way.)

James

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Beans & Egg on Toast

Beans& Egg on Toast

Doesn’t that look awesome?

When I was in England, I stayed in the dorms at the University of Nottingham. Three meals a day were included, but when you’re cooking for 200+ people, it can be hit and miss. The best dishes were bread pudding (every Sunday dinner) and beans on toast, which was one of our breakfast options. Haven’t learned to make bread pudding yet, but the other is one of my standbys when I’m in the mood for something quick and tasty…and not healthy by any stretch of the imagination.

Beans and Toast is exactly as it sounds, but I’ve taken to adding a twist–a barely fried egg.

There are two tricks to this dish: timing (you want everything to be hot and ready at the same time) and butter. I use canned beans–in tomato sauce is traditional, but I prefer maple. Heat them up and make your toast. Butter the toast, then start your egg.

Fry it according to your taste, but don’t skimp on the butter. This makes the edges of the egg nice and crispy, and gives a nice flavour overall. I fry it until it just starts to set, then flip it over for five or ten seconds before taking it off the pan. This makes for an egg with a solid white, but a very runny yolk.
The egg goes on the toast, the beans on the egg–and a dash of Worcestershire sauce or Frank’s is a nice touch. Poke the yolk and let it run. Comfort food hardly gets better than this!

James

Livvy and James’ Fish Cakes

Ta da!This is another of our favourite quick and simple meals. Olivia and I eat a lot of fish; it’s generally either haddock or tilapia, and we eat it at least once a week. Normally, we just fry it up, add some veggies and rice or potatoes on the side–and don’t forget the Frank’s Red Hot–and it’s a meal done in less than half an hour. Fish cakes take a little bit longer, but mostly in prep–and it’s definitely worth the extra effort.

This is a recipe we made up as we went along, and it works like a charm.

You’ll need:

  • 2-3 fish fillets, chopped into small pieces.
  • 1 1/2 cups of rice, cooked.
  • 4 green onions, chopped.
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten.
  • 1-2 Tbsp flour (you’ll have to eyeball it).
  • 1/2 tsp each of salt, pepper and paprika (substitute other spices for paprika to taste).
  • 1/2-3/4 cup grated cheese.
  • 1 tsp parmesan cheese.
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced.
  • 1 tsp lemon juice.
  • Olive oil and butter for the pan.

For this meal, I used haddock; our other favourite is tilapia, though I imagine cod, sole, or other whitefish would be just as nice. For the cheese, we normally use a rich old cheddar, but this time I decided to split it half and half with havarti. I also forgot about the green onions for the fish cakes, and used our last few for the accompanying salad–so I just used white onion.

  1. First, gather all your ingredients, and mix everything in a large bowl. Don’t over-mix it, but you want to make sure that everything combines nicely.
  2. Add flour as needed until the mixture just starts to clump together. Too much will make them a bit doughy;with too little, they won’t stay together in the pan. Start with 1 Tbsp and go from there. If you can pick up a handful and form it into a ball without it crumbling apart, you’re there.
  3. Put some cooking oil into a hot pan with a touch of butter (which will give it a nice golden colour). Spoon a large tablespoon full of the mixture onto the an and form it into a patty. Don’t put too many in at once! Chances are you’ll need to do batches anyway, so don’t crown the pan–it’ll just make it harder to turn them.
  4. Fry for about 5 minutes on each side, and check for doneness (the fish pieces should be flaky and white).

And that’s it! Depending on how many batches you do, it should only take about a half hour to forty five minutes–the rice will take longer than anything. This recipe will yield about 9-10 medium sized cakes, but you can make them any size you want.

Serve with a salad and some fresh steamed veggies (broccoli, of course!) and you’ve got a quick and healthy meal. You can remove the cheese to make it even healthier.

And don’t forget the hot sauce!

James and Olivia

Cutting & Gutting a Sweet Pepper

Yellow Pepper

Yellow Pepper

Okay, this food tip might seem so simple it doesn’t need to be mentioned–but I’ll be honest, when I first learned to do this it blew me away.

Olivia and I eat lots of sweet peppers. Besides broccoli, it’s probably our favourite and most used vegetable. Red, green, orange, yellow–it doesn’t matter. They’re good in everything!

Except that white stuff inside. And all the seeds. You’re bound to get seeds everywhere. So here’s an impossibly simple tip to try out:

Off with their heads!

Off with their heads!

Cut the top of the pepper off. Inside is a nice web of seeds and pith. If you put your hand into the pepper, you can curl your fingers around the bundle of seeds. Just twist, pull it out, and discard. Rinse the inside with water to shake loose any seeds that are knocking around in the pepper, and that’s it.

Disassembling the pepper

Disassembling the pepper

Once it’s clean, you can slice it into rings or strips, dice it, or stuff it. And don’t throw away the top; you can snap the pieces clear of the stem easily, trim the pith with a paring knife, and toss them into a salad or stir-fry.

As a bonus, here’s something fun to try with your sweet pepper rings:

James