Day 66 – Marlin

April 20, 2007

Friday, April 20, 2007: Marlin steaks with Tapenade

Finally, the weather has turned. I had 20 minutes to kill before a meeting downtown today, pulled out my iPod, warmed up my blackberry and just sat (basked) in the sun. On days like this, who needs an office…

Stopped at the fish mongers on the way home and grabbed two marlin steaks. Sprinkled them with some olive oil, salt and pepper and let them marinade while the gas grill warmed up.

While that was taking place I quickly whipped up a tapenade to go with it:
1 Tablespoon capers
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
2 Tablespoons olive oil
5 Tablespoons pitted calamata olives (about 20 olives)
1 Clove garlic

Put all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and give it a whir until it’s smooth – about 30 – 40 seconds. Transfer to a bowl and place in the fridge to give it a chill…

A bunch of asparagus (it’s Spring!) were snapped, washed and then blanched for three minutes in heavily salted boiling water.  After three minutes, they went into an ice bath to stop the cooking process and give them a brilliant green colour.

Finally, the kids I and got out some sponges, a bucket and lots of soapy warm water and we set up and cleaned the patio furniture.

With the gas grill humming, the marlin was cooked about five minutes a side, turning 90 degrees after 4 minutes to give it nice cross-hatch grill marks.

K. came home and she made two Kir Royales, took the asparagus out of the ice water and gave it a douse of olive oil, lemon juice and a spinkling of kosher salt.  The asparagus went on the grill for 3 or 4 minutes to finish it off.

We switch to prosecco once the food hits the plate…

The Verdict
The boy absolutely devours the marlin. At first we can’t get enough fish on his plate, he’s wolfing it down so quickly.

Our daughter, who loves olives more than just about any other food, thinks the tapenade is the greatest thing ever. She puts it on her asparagus, on her fish, on her baguette…by the end she was eating “the olive sauce” as she called it straight up off a spoon. I don’t know why I didn’t think of making tapenade for her earlier.

It’s a nice meal, but it’s even nicer as it’s our first dinner outside this Spring. I’m hopeful the nice weather is here to stay and we’ll have plenty more meals on the back deck.


Day 65 – Pizza

April 19, 2007

Thursday, April 19, 2007: Pizza

K. and I were both a little late getting home tonight so, much to the kids’ delight, we ordered a pizza. Was hoping for leftovers but the four of us polished the whole pie off.

Next time we’ll order the extra large.

Day 64 – Osso Bucco

April 19, 2007

Tuesday, April 17, 2007: Osso Bucco

It’s too freaking cold for April. Everyone is talking about how it’s going to get up into the 20s on the weekend, but it’s so cold and damp I’m not sure I believe any of the weathermen.

So it’s back to the slow cooker, more earthy warm meals until we can start eating out on the back deck…

On Monday night, after the kids were in bed, I seared off three veal shanks in some olive oil. Mirepoix went into the pan and cooked down. Then four or five crushed and minced cloves of garlic went into the skillet, followed by a few tablespoons of red wine to help scrape up all the crusty bits.

The veggies and veal went into the bowl of the slow cooker along with half a cup of red wine and a tin of whole tomatoes (which I smushed to cover the veal and veggies). This was wrapped in cling film and spent the night in the fridge

Tuesday Morning

The cling film comes off, a bay leaf and some salt and pepper go in with the veal and veggies, the slow cooker gets switched on and I stumble off to the office.

Tuesday Evening

We come home to a great smelling house and a nice warm dinner. The kids eat the meat and a bit of the veg (my daughter is rather put off by the cooked tomatoes). We round things out with some Greek potatoes picked up from one of the many Greek joints near the local subway stop (it’s the only potatoes my daughter will eat and she begged me to buy some when I left work for work in the morning. What’s a dad to do?).

 It’s a bit of an odd combination, but it’s tasty and it works.

For dessert we split up some of the easter booty. There’s enough milk chocolate in the house to keep Augustus Gloop happy.

Day 63 – Cannelloni

April 19, 2007

Monday, April 16 2007: Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni

My second try making Cannelloni and I’m going with a back-of-the-box recipe, something I rarely do.

10 ounces of spinach (I bought a frozen pack, organic too)
450 grams of ricotta (the package was 475 grams and I used it all; so much for exact measures)
1 egg
1/4 cup parmesan

Combine all these ingredients in a bowl and, once mixed, load it all in a pastry bag or a freezer sized zip loc baggy. Squeeze out the air and pipe the spinach ricotta mix into the cannelloni. The filling my daugther and I made was enough to fill 20 pasta shells.

Put 1/2 cup tomato sauce in the bottom of a roasting pan; top with another 1/2 cup sauce and another 1/4 cup grated parm. Cover in foil and bake for 45 minutes at 350.

The Verdict
My little guy ate all the filling and some of the pasta. My daugther just ate the pasta, tomato sauce and cheese.

I found it all a bit bland. If I were to make it again, I’d increase the salt in the ricotta mix and I’d consider adding fresh herbs like basil or even some pesto (prepared or fresh – anything to bump this up a bit).

The portions meant there was enough for my lunch on Tuesday. Yay – bland lunch!

Day 62 – BBQ Steak

April 16, 2007

Sunday, April 15, 2007: BBQ Steak and Sweet Potato Rosti

I feel as though Spring will never come. It’s cold enough to see my breath, it’s rainy and grey. Hard to believe a few weeks ago I was thinking of eating on the back deck.

Still, I wanted to bbq on Sunday night so we picked up a few strip-loins from the butcher.

My three year old daughter and I prepped a Greek salad together (I do the knife work, she adds the olives, oregano and crumbles the feta).

I also tried to make sweet potato rosti:
550 Grams of Sweet potatoes (there were three)
1 egg
small onion, minced
clove of garlic, minced

The sweet potatoes went through the box grater into a tea towel, where I did my best to squeeze out any moisture. The onion and garlic were sauteed (don’t let the garlic brown!). The potato, onion and garlic were mixed with the beaten egg and formed into small cakes/patties. These went on a sheet of silpat and into a 400F oven for 30+ minutes.

Steaks went on the grill, the one for the kids went on early so it would be more medium well and their steak also got a hit of bbq sauce.

The bottoms of the rosti cooked a bit faster than the tops (perhaps 400F is to hot) so I finished them quickly under the broiler.

For dessert, K. and my daughter made a blueberry crumble from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. It was a bit runny, although my wife thought that might be due to the fact that she used frozen berries. She said she’d put in a touch more flour if she were to make it again (it was great, so I hope she makes it again). She also said she had to double the amount of topping the recipe called for in order to cover the whole pan.

The Verdict
The kids really weren’t sure about the sweet potato rosti. My daughter ate a little bit but seemed unsure of the whole thing. My 20 month old son took his apart, completely enamoured by the long strands of potato, which he could smush between his fingers.  They both ate steak and Greek salad. 

My daughter also thought it was hilarious that the crumble gave her purple teeth. Needless to say, it was a big hit with both kids.

Day 61 – Dinner with the In-Laws

April 16, 2007

Saturday, April 14, 2007: BBQ Salmon, stir-fried veg

K. and I enrolled in a infant-child first aid course on Saturday so my in-laws came down for the day to look after the kids.

Saturday morning, I stopped by the fish-monger and picked up a side of pacific salmon, which I tucked in the fridge.

When we got home from our course, the salmon was marinated in a mixture of 1/4 cup soy, 1/4 cup maple syrup that was featured in Cook’s Illustrated a few month’s ago. The fish was marinaded for about 45 minutes (skin side up, so that only the flesh went in the marinade).

The Salmon went skin-side down on the gas grill at 400F, with the heat turned down slightly on the side of the grill where the salmon was placed.

Some basmati rice went on the cooker and a red pepper, green beans and snow peas were prepped for a stir fry. After a few minutes in a very hot wok, I added the following mix:
2 Tablespoons Oyster Sauce
2 Tablespoons water
2 Tablespoons Light Soy Sauce
1 Tablespoon Fish Sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 clove garlic, minced

I finished the stir-fry with a few drops of sesame oil and a sprinkling of white sesame seeds.

The salmon was basted at the 10 and 18 minute mark with the left-over marinade and was finished cooking after 20 minutes.

The Verdict
The kids ate everything – the rice, the veggies, the salmon and the cherry tomatoes and cucumber slices we also put on their plates and K’s parents seemed to really like the Salmon.

My mother-in-law brought a very nice layered spice cake with a whipped cream/cream cheese icing for dessert. My son ate all of his piece and most of his grandfather’s too (he knew who’s lap to aim for once his dessert was done).

Most importantly, K. and I are now well versed in the Heimlich just in case…

Day 60 – Burgers with the Kid

April 16, 2007

Friday, April 13, 2007: Burgers, “Fries” and Greek Salad

Slight change of pace as it’s K’s turn to have a corporate event and a night out of the house, so it’s just me and the little ones.

My daughter is desperate to help make dinner. As soon as I start to take items out of the fridge she’s dragging a chair into the kitchen so she can stand beside me at the counter. Tonight, to keep her engaged yet safely away from raw hamburgers, I get her to set the table including putting out all of the condiments for our burgers.

While she was doing that, I quickly made about 8 hamburger patties and got the counters cleaned up before she could return.

I scrubbedtwo large russet potatoes and quickly cut each into about six wedges, which were then cut in half. I put them in a bowl and had my daughter add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, a pinch of kosher salt and quick sprinkling of thyme. This was given a toss and the two of us spread the potato wedges onto a cookie sheet. They went into a 400F oven for 35+ minutes.

I did the knife work for a greek salad and had her add the olives, oregano and crumble in the feta.  She gave the whole thing a stir with a big wooden spoon and managed to get the salad bowl on the table without dropping it.

The Verdict

My son ate more ketchup than anything else, finally picking up his plate to lick the ketchup right off of it. He did manage to eat his burger and some fries too. His sister destroyed her burger, ate all of her fries and did a pretty respectable job on the salad. 

Dessert was yogurt and blueberries, my daughter has learned the dreaded phrase, “on the side” so she had a bowl of blueberries and a bowl of yogurt.

Day 59 – Rubber Chicken

April 13, 2007

Thursday, April 12: Rubber chicken

I had to go to a retirement dinner last night (I didn’t have to go, it was very nice of the client to offer me a seat at one of their tables).

Rubber chicken in a rented tux with with 1600 people. I knew maybe 20 people in the room.

I’m told K. and the kids had pasta…

Day 58 – Marinated Grilled Chicken

April 11, 2007

April 11, 2007: Marinated Chicken

I had a meeting downtown that got out at 4, so instead of going back to the office, I decided to head home. I stopped at the butcher’s and picked up a whole chicken.

Got into the kitchen and split the chicken by cutting out the backbone and pressing the bird flat and prepped a marinade:

3 tbsp grapeseed oil
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp minced ginger
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp five spice powder
4 Star Anise, toasted and ground

Combine all of the ingredients and marinade the chicken for 1 to 4 hours. I gave my bird about 45 minutes in the sauce.

Pre-heat a gas grill to 450 – 500F; when you’re ready to cook turn down one side of the grill to medium low, this is the side you will cook the chicken on (you want to keep the grill at about 400F).

Chicken goes skin side up for 15 minutes, skin side down for 15 minutes, skin side up for 15 minutes and it’s done.

Prepped some basmati rice and a green salad to go alongside.

After nearly 10 days of fighting a cold, it’s very nice to be eating properly again.

Day 57 – Chicken Souvlaki

April 11, 2007

April 10, 2007: Chicken Souvlaki, Rice and Asparagus

Having not really eaten food for some time, it’s hard to get back on the horse.

Easter dinner on Sunday at the in-laws was a very low-key affair. My mother in law is a great cook, but I just didn’t want to push things.

Monday night we all seemed to be bouncing back so I went to the butchers to pick up a chicken. Sadly, there were no chickens left and not much choice under his counter.

I picked up six chicken souvlakis and stopped at the green grocers to grab some Asparagus (even though it’s freezing here, I can still hope it’s Spring).

The aspargus was pretty woody and thick, I snapped it and let each stem break where it wanted.

The aspargus was blanched for three minutes in heavily salted water, whacked in an ice-bath and then finished on the grill with a bit of olive oil and lemon.

The Verdict
There were just enough leftovers for the kids lunch on Tuesday. It was very nice to sit down together at the table and have a meal together, hard to believe it’s been 10 days since we last managed to do so…