Food Friday : An Award Ceremony for Firsts, Favourites and Things you Might Like to Try

Welcome to the ‘Foods That Were on Our Table This Week’ Awards. Without further ado, I’ll just dive right in.

The award for ________ goes to …

Most Delicious Sandwich : Open-Face Smoked Salmon on a toasted multi-grain bagel, with low-fat cream cheese, red onion, capers and lemon juice.

smoked-salmon-sandwich

smoked-salmon-sandwich-02

Have you ever tried this combo? It is so good. If you’re thinking ‘But I don’t like raw onions’, well me neither. That is, on anything except this sandwich. We found the sliced frozen salmon on special and bought a couple of packages. A little of it goes a long way and we had plenty in one package to make six double-sided sandwiches throughout the week. Best breakfast ever.

garnishes-for-smoked-salmon sandwiches

A funny story in relation to this meal … See the lemon in the picture and how it has a bit of a stem still attached? Lemons don’t grow here in Canada so any that we have are imported from the States or Mexico, and we rarely see any that still have some stem attached. So after I used this lemon for my sandwich I put the rest of it in the fridge. The next day Nick went to use it and stopped short, asking me if I had been using the lemon for a blog post and if it was good to use in his iced tea.

I thought he had eyes at the back of his head because he was at work when I’d used that lemon, so he should have had no reason to know I had used it for the blog.

Turns out he mistook the little piece of stem sticking out to be a toothpick and thought I had been doing some kind of weird crafting that involved lemons and toothpicks.

I am still laughing about it when I retell you the story here. But really, he could have been right, because there was a time that he found the rinds from used lemons in the fridge with a note that said ‘Don’t throw out’. I use them on my elbows to keep them soft. It really works well!

Favourite Meal : Pasta with homemade tomato sauce, basil, freshly ground pepper and grated cheese.

pasta-with-homemade-tomato-sauce

If I am up in our shared home office working on something and I hear the sound of dried pasta being poured into a pot, a trigger goes off like Pavlov’s Dog. I have always and will always love pasta.

The sauce is some that Nick made following this method.

Note the basil is from the bunch I bought almost two weeks ago now and wrote about how I was storing it at room temperature in a vase of water here. It is still perfectly fresh.

The cheese we had on this meal is the winner of the next category.

Excellent Cheese to Grate over Pasta : Mizithra

freshly-grated-mizithra-cheese

Have you ever tried this kind of cheese that is made in Greece using sheep or goat’s milk? It is rare here so we can’t always find it but when we can we buy a piece and keep it in the freezer and then use it up like it’s a valuable treasure. At the cheese store in Kensington Market that Nick shops at, they know he wants it when they have it, so he doesn’t have to ask for it anymore. If they have it, which seems to be about twice a year, they pull it out of the cooler when they see him come in.

First Try at Making Something : Brown Beans from scratch

homemade-brown-beans-on-toast

cooked-beans-for-brown-beans

We found a bag of white navy beans for $.99 and decided to try making some brown beans. They took some time because you have to first soak the beans, then boil them until they’re soft, and then bake them in a sauce of molasses, brown sugar, vinegar and spices (we found the recipe online).

making-brown-beans

After going through the isles at the grocery store twice to find molasses, we had to ask three different stock people where we could find it. One of them had no idea what it was. Apparently it isn’t all that popular, even though when we did find it (in the baking goods area) there were oddly three different brands available, with only a few cartons of each one. I went for the ‘Fancy’ molasses because hey, why not go fancy when you’re making brown beans?

molasses

They are delicious. I say ‘are’ rather than ‘were’ because there were a lot of them so we had them for snacks and side dishes all week, even after putting half of them in the freezer.

Verdict – homemade brown beans are so much better than canned ones, but since there as so many steps that go into making them, you might as well make a lot, so be prepared to eat beans often during the week you make them. They kept very well in the fridge though so no worries there. We haven’t tried the ones we froze yet but they should be ok.

Wines Tried for the First Time : A Red and a Sparkling Wine (which we call Champagne around here although it isn’t technically so).

vernaiolo-chianti-2011-rocca delle macie

Did you know that Chianti is called so, because the grapes are grown in the Chianti region in central Tuscany Italy? So it’s not about the kind of grape and some Chiantis are made with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Syrah grapes. I didn’t know this. Anyway, the 2011 Rocca delle Macie Verialol Chianti we tried was very good and we’ll be having it again. We bought it on discount but at a regular price of $22 it’s a bit pricey for our usual, so we’ll save it for a special occasion.

We had the ‘fake’ champagne, Codorniu Classico Cava Brut, to celebrate Nick receiving an A+ grade in the university course he just completed.

cava-codorniu-classico

There was cake for this celebratory event too! Of course, I could have made a cake but there was no way that it would come close to what I bought at our local cake shop, Dufflet, which is arguably the best in town.

dufflet-cake-box

Joint Effort : Beef Pot Pies.

beef-pot-pie-01

We don’t eat much meat but when we do we stretch it out and use it more as a flavouring. I haven’t had a hamburger or any chicken in more than a decade. We were total vegetarians for ten years and only just started eating a bit of meat again over the past year or so.

beef-pot-pie-02

For our pot pies I made the filling, which was a stew of lean beef, onions, mushrooms, carrots, peas, corn, garlic and seasoning. And Nick made the whole-wheat crusts and formed the pies. We have several of them in the freezer for later.

Quick Meals Pulled from the Freezer : Lentil Soup

homemade-lentil-soup

I made this lentil soup back at the end of March. You can cook dried brown lentils right in your soup stock without soaking them first, so lentil soup is pretty quick to make from scratch.

When we make soup we always make a large batch and then freeze it in servings for two in large size zip-lock freezer bags. These are just perfect for freezing soup because they freeze thin and flat. So when we feel like soup we can just flip through our selection and choose the one we want.

Fruit in a Salad : Strawberries

strawberries-in-a-tossed-salad

Strawberries are winning the award this week because that is what we had, but I pretty much put some fruit in all of our tossed salads, even if it’s just dried cranberries. Pears, apples and any berry works really well. You can see our Valentines’ Day Salad with strawberries and cheese hearts here, if you’d like.

This particular salad was served alongside the Lentil Soup.

Let’s Make it Again : There was a tie for this category, Candied Ginger and Home Smoked Salmon.

making-candied-ginger

We loved the ginger so much after I made it as an Easter treat for Nick (seen here) that I made it again, this time a double batch.

making-smoked-salmon

smoking-salmon-on-a-weber-charcoal grill

If you’d like to see one of my earliest blog posts, back in September 2011, you can see Nick’s method of making smoked salmon on our charcoal barbeque here.

This all went straight into the freezer so we haven’t actually eaten any of it yet, aside from a small taste, but we are having company over for dinner tomorrow, so I’ll be using some to make an appetizer spread for crackers.

First Meal of the year Eaten Outside

barbecue-baked-potato

I spoke about our first barbeque of the year here, however it was too cool to actually eat outside. But on Monday it was perfect so we cooked and ate outdoors.

Note: I did have more than a potato.

Best Thing Made With Leftovers : Baked Potato and Sweet Potato Soup

sweet-potato-soup-01

sweet-potato-soup

It makes sense that this award follow the previous because one stems from the other. When be barbecued we made extra baked potatoes and sweet potatoes, that Nick then turned into an excellent soup. We had some on Wednesday and put some in the freezer for the future.

Phew … that was a long post. But award ceremonies are notoriously long, right?

If you’re still reading, thanks for sticking with me. And if you left at the Brown Beans, thanks for dropping by, but you’re gone now so won’t realize the full extent of my gratitude.

Really, I am very grateful to have you here.

Wishing you a great weekend. Tomorrow Eddie the Cat is making his appearance, so if you’re so inclined come on back! Warning, he’s going to be C-U-T-E.
xo loulou

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