Meals

Week Twenty-Eight: Greek Lamb from “Out of New Nova Scotia Kitchens”

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m catching up on recipes after missing a couple weeks. This month’s book is Out of New Nova Scotia Kitchens by Craig Flinn. I tried the Grilled Greek Salad with Crispy Fried Feta Cheese and, along with it, Greek Leg of Lamb.

Well, sort of.

The recipe is “Greek leg of Lamb with Heirloom Tomato Salad and Field Cuke Tzatziki”. I didn’t do the heirloom tomato salad because I was already doing the Grilled Greek Salad. And I didn’t do a leg of lamb, I did lamb chops.

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I know, I know. But I didn’t see a leg of lamb at the store and there was a fantastic rack of lamb chops calling my name. I’ve been dying to try lamb chops on the BBQ ever since I first cooked them indoors during Eataly month. But the marinade is the same and was quite good.

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Lamb chops feel like a real treat because I love them, only started eating them this year, and they cost a fortune. This was the perfect Sunday meal to cap off a lovely weekend. I don’t know that I liked this marinade quite as much as I did the Eataly rub – but I love that recipe and have made it a few times now, making it a high standard. Eataly‘s rub has just five ingredients, while this marinade has twelve, so there’s something to be said for simplicity. But the dish was still very good.

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I’m looking forward to cooking recipes from this book year-round since it’s seasonally-inspired. It’s the sort of book I’d pull out for any Sunday dinner when I want to make something nice, as well as for a special occasion meal or a dinner party where I’m trying to impress someone.

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Meals, Monthly Cookbook Selection

Week Twenty-Seven: Grilled Greek Salad with Crispy Fried Feta from “Out Of New Nova Scotia Kitchens”

I have some catching up to do! July has been a busy month. I’d planned quite a few BBQ-centric recipes for this month and that was put on hold while we had a new deck built. But it’s all done now, and we have an even better outdoor space for cooking and entertaining. Look!

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I also happened to choose a pretty challenging book for this month, Out of New Nova Scotia Kitchens by Craig Flinn. Craig Flinn is a well-known chef in Halifax and runs a few establishments including Chives – one of my favorite restaurants for a nice meal.

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I will be cooking four recipes from this book, one for each Sunday in July. Tonight I made two recipes, but I plan to write separate posts to keep things simple.

This is a GREAT book. It’s obviously of particular interest to me, as a Nova Scotian. It’s divided into seasons, with a fifth section for year-round dishes. Since it’s local, the in-season ingredients actually align with what I see at the market.

That said, I think it’s definitely a chef’s book. Some of the recipes are quite involved and fancier than what I’d typically make at home. I think I’m special for making my own tea biscuits and whipped cream for strawberry shortcake. Well, this book has a special strawberry sauce recipe, a scone recipe, and a white chocolate whipped cream recipe. Since it’s summer, the first two recipes I chose were from the “Summer” section of the book. I began with Grilled Greek Salad with Crispy Fried Feta.

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The salad called for a lot of ingredients, i.e. red, yellow, and green bell peppers, or green and yellow zucchini. Since I was only making the salad for myself and Rob, I simplified it a bit and just used red pepper, green zucchini, and smaller amounts of all the other vegetables.

As we were preparing to barbecue, we heard thunder rolling in the distance. Even though it was perfectly sunny! With the threat of a downpour looming, I edited the recipe slightly. The book says the grill your peppers whole, and then grill your onion and zucchini directly on the grill. For ease and speed, I threw everything onto a foil sheet.

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Then it was time to fry the feta. I get really nervous about frying things but this was quite simple and turned out great.

My only complaint is that the book reads: “In a shallow dish, sprinkle flour. In a second dish, stir together eggs and bread crumbs.”

This isn’t my first rodeo. Usually, the eggs and breadcrumbs are in separate bowls and it’s a three-step process: dip your item in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs. But in good faith, I tried mixing the eggs and breadcrumbs. It was total garbage! I had to throw the mixture away and keep them separate. Maybe I did something wrong, but it seemed like a bizarre instruction.

It was very easy to fry the feta in a little oil in the pan, and I laid them on a napkin afterwards to soak up some grease.

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My recommendation: these should be the last thing you make. They were DELICIOUS when hot and fresh. I was really impressed and will do this again. (I used locally produced Holmestead feta cheese. I love feta and probably buy a small container every week or two.)

The warm grilled salad with crispy-on-the-outside, melt-in-your-mouth-on-the-inside feta cheese was the perfect accompaniment to our main course… which just happens to be my next blog.

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Week Twenty-Six: Watermelon Bruschetta from “The Forest Feast”

Wow, week 26! I can’t believe I’m halfway through my project. I’ve cooked from six books so far:

  • Plenty
  • Eataly
  • A Modern Way To Cook
  • The Savannah Cookbook
  • My Father’s Daughter
  • The Forest Feast

They’ve all been so different and have taught me different things. I’ve loved all the books, with the exception of the ancient Savannah Cookbook which I knew was a gamble. I think I like Eataly the most because I learned the most from it, but Plenty really expanded my horizons as well. A Modern Way To Cook and My Father’s Daughter have a lot of fantastic recipes that aren’t too complicated.

A Forest Feast really shines in the entertaining area, I think. The cocktail, appetizer, and salad recipes are my favorites from this book. And as I’ve said before, it’s just so darn pretty! For my last recipe, I actually made an appetizer that isn’t in the book but is on the website. When I saw it, I just knew I had to try it while watermelon is in season!

I made this watermelon bruschetta for a get-together at my house on Sunday afternoon. The recipe calls for ricotta salata, which I could not find, so I used spreadable feta. I bought it this time because I was short on time. But you can make it by just throwing feta into the food processor and adding cream cheese until it’s the right consistency.

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So summery. So tasty. The perfect snack for a good hangout session on the deck! I had a few friends over to do a blind cider tasting. I’ve always preferred drinking cider to beer, and thanks to the gluten-free crowd, it’s having a real moment right now. It doesn’t hurt that I live in Nova Scotia. We grow a lot of apples here, so there are lots of amazing ciders to choose one. Our group of eight tried ten different ciders, without knowing what we were tasting, and rated them. Some of the results were surprising! A few people liked ciders they did not expect to like, and a popular local favorite only ranked in the mid-range. For those interested, here were the final group ratings:

  1. No Boats on Sunday – 7.7/10 – Truro, NS
  2. Shipbuilders – 7.4/10 – Windsor, NS
  3. Noggins Vintage – 6.5/10 – Annapolis Valley, NS
  4. Batch 1904 – 6.4/10 – Toronto, ON
  5. Bulwark – 5.8/10 – New Ross, NS
  6. Ginger Apple Cider (I forget what brand this was) – 4.6/10
  7. Alexander Keith’s – 4.5/10 – International (The Keith’s Brewery is here in Halifax, but the cider is possibly made in the US?)
  8. Angry Orchard – 4.5/10 – Walden, NY
  9. Somersby Blackberry – 3.8/10 – International
  10. Strongbow – 3.5/10 – England

Sorry, Strongbow. There was a time when you were the only cider around. But you were heartily disliked. Local ciders for the win!

I correctly guessed 6/10 in the blind taste test, so I guess I really know my ciders! My tastes aligned pretty closely with what I expected. My top four by quite a margin were Shipbuilders, No Boats on Sunday, Noggins, and Batch 1904. My worst, all with rankings of 1/10 or less, were Somersby, the ginger one, Angry Orchard, and Alexander Keith’s.

It was a fun afternoon with cold drinks, good snacks, great weather, and even better people. I highly recommend hosting something similar! Next weekend is a holiday weekend, and I’ll be diving into a new cookbook for July!

 

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Meals

Week Twenty-Five: Nectarine Tomato Salad from “The Forest Feast”

The Forest Feast has a lot of great recipes, but I think my favorites are the salads. They use interesting combinations of fruits and vegetables that I’d never think of myself. This nectarine tomato salad instantly stood out to me when flipping through the book.

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The local grocery store’s nectarines were hard as rocks, so I used peaches instead. They were mixed with tomato, red onion, pecans, local Nova Scotia feta cheese (which I’ve been eating a boatload of lately), and fresh basil and mint from my garden. It was a refreshing, easy, delicious side.

Local strawberries are now in season, a.k.a. my favorite time of year. So I made a strawberry mango salsa to go with our BBQ salmon.

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The salsa has strawberries, mango, jalapeno, red pepper, red onion, cilantro, and lime juice. I marinated the salmon in a mixture of soy sauce, lime juice, honey, and sriracha. Then we wrapped it in foil and put it on the BBQ. So good! There’s guacamole and halloumi cheese on the plate, too.

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This is a perfect summer meal, in my book.

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Week Twenty-Four: Rosemary Fizz and Watermelon Salad from “The Forest Feast”

This week is not my best showing, guys.

I began with the best intentions. On Saturday, we had friends over for a barbecue and I made the rosemary fizz cocktail for myself and my friend Cailin. We both enjoyed it – it’s simple to make and has the perfect summer flavors. Gin, lemonade, honey, rosemary, and club soda. Best served in cat glasses with friends.

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I’d planned to follow that with more recipes on Sunday, but then Sunday morning led to a surprise trip to the emergency animal hospital. And a coffee-maker accident that led to coffee all over the floor and my husband burning his wrist with scalding water. It was not our best look.

Our cat is OK, but will need dental surgery. The sedation that comes with dental work is a risk as he has a heart murmur. I am stressed, to say the least. So instead of getting groceries on Sunday, I realized I had all the ingredients for pizza and did that. No need to leave my little buddy’s side!

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On Monday, I made the watermelon salad I’d planned to make. Only, I’ve had a crazy few days and didn’t do it entirely right. I forgot that I ate the fresh mozzarella (the pizza) and substituted in feta. Still great! And I forgot all the nuts, even though I specifically purchased them.

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I’ll do better next week. The salad was still good. Even though it was just watermelon, feta, mint, and basil. I used cookie cutters to make the watermelon pretty, too!

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Week Twenty-Three: Cucumber Spritzer & Strawberry Cucumber Ribbon Salad from “A Forest Feast”

Well hello, June! It’s a new month and a new cookbook. In June, I’ll be making recipes from A Forest Feast by Erin Gleeson. My sister sent me this book for my birthday.

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(She also sent me Delancey – a memoir about a couple who opens a pizza shop. It was a great read. Is there any better birthday gift than a surprise order from Chapters? No. No there is not.)

A Forest Feast has some of the most beautiful food photography of any cookbook I own. This Erin gal is living the dream in a cabin in the California woods. The book has a focus on entertaining, which I love, and it’s vegetarian – which I am not, but I eat vegetarian a lot so that appeals to me. The book has appetizers, cocktails, salads, main courses, and desserts. Flipping through, I’m particularly fond of her inventive salad recipes. So for the first test, I decided to try out a summery salad and cocktail pairing.

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I thought I’d pluck some fresh mint from our garden, but Rob informed me that the mint was planted as an ant repellant, right next to the ant poison, and is not for consumption. Oops. We’ve been doing A LOT of yard work lately. Maybe next week I’ll tackle the herb garden.

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No mint garnish, but I did add a strawberry for good measure. And how about these adorable cat wine glasses my friend Cailin got me? This simple drink was a great reminder that I do love a wine spritzer.

In keeping with the cucumber theme, I made the Strawberry Cucumber Ribbon Salad. It was a perfect summery side to our barbecued kebabs.

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I made a couple substitutions, but it worked. Feta instead of goat cheese, since I had some to use up (but my leftovers for lunch tomorrow has goat cheese) and sugar snap peas instead of snow peas, as they seemed fresher at the store. I really, really enjoyed this salad and it took minutes to prepare. I love having a variety of salads in my repertoire so I can easily whip something up for a healthy side dish at summer barbecues.

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Week Twenty-Two: Seasonal Fruit Crumble from “My Father’s Daughter”

The weather on Saturday here in Halifax was beautiful – warm and sunny, perfect for barbecuing. Unfortunately, we didn’t get around to that. So even though it was gray and drizzly today, we barbecued.

We picked up ginger soy marinated short rib for making kebabs, and I made a version of my favorite Mexican Street Corn Salad. This one had grilled corn, grilled cherry tomatoes, avocado, a little mayonnaise, feta cheese, lime juice, and cilantro.

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I couldn’t resist picking up some halloumi cheese as well. It’s one of my favorite BBQ treats.

It’s rare that I make a special dessert. I usually save that for dinner parties and even then I’m more likely to buy something from a bakery or ask a friend to bring something. Baking is not my forte. But Gwyneth has some tasty-sounding dessert recipes in her book, and I wanted to try dishes from a few different sections. So I picked out something that looked like the perfect accompaniment to our meal: a seasonal crumble.

Crumbles are right up my alley because they’re so easy to make. This came together in minutes while Rob was grilling and baked while we ate. I used a mix about three cups of blueberries and one cup of raspberries.

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The result was a delicious dessert that was sweet without being decadent or heavy. We enjoyed it with some frozen Greek yogurt.

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I have one more recipe to cook from My Father’s Daughter – I’m making pancakes on Saturday, to make up for missing Week Twenty. I’d hoped to make them on Victoria Day and was missing an ingredient – is there anything more disappointing? I really like this book and there are many more recipes I plan to try. Especially ones for the BBQ! I’ll update over the summer with any new recipes I enjoy.

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