Lemon-Rosemary Chicken

Time: 45 minutes
Effort: Easy
Serves: 2

4 chicken thighs, skin on 
1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 tbsp. neutral oil (such as Canola)
Rind and juice from 1 lemon
1 tbsp. fresh rosemary
A little water if necessary
Salt and pepper to taste
2 rosemary stalks for garnish
Sauteed  oyster mushrooms for garnish (optional)

Heat oil in a medium skillet until hot. Add shallots, reduce heat and saute until transparent. Add chicken thighs, increase heat and brown quickly on all sides. Reduce heat to medium, add the garlic, rosemary, lemon rind and juice and combine well. Spoon sauce over chicken. Sprinkle with a little salt and a generous amount of ground pepper. Cover and let simmer, turning the chicken from time to time, for about 30 minutes. At this point, check the chicken for doneness - it should be almost falling off the bone. Adjust seasoning to your liking and add a little bit of water to increase the amount of sauce, if you wish. Simmer covered for another 5-10 minutes.

Shown here: served with sauteed oyster mushrooms on top, and parsley-buttered sun dried tomato spaghettini with freshly grated parmesan.

Sun Dried Tomato & Cheese Bread

Sun Dried Tomato & Cheese Bread
Time: 2-4 hours (Approx.)
Effort: Medium
Makes 1 10" round loaf (approx.)

2 cups unbleached white bread flour, or regular white flour, plus extra.
1 tsp. active dry yeast
6-8 oz. warm water
2 tbsp. olive oil
Olive oil for brushing
3/4 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes 
1/2 to 1 cup shredded sharp cheese (such as cheddar or gruyere, parmesan etc.)
1 tsp. fine sea salt
1 tsp. coarse sea salt for the top
Corn meal for sprinkling

Mix the yeast with 1/4 cup warm water (100-105oF), cover with plastic wrap and let froth - about 5 minutes.  Fill a measuring cup with 2 cups flour, add the fine sea salt and mix with a fork.

Pour 1/2 cup warm water along with the salt, tomatoes, olive oil and cheese into a food processor (or better still, in a stand mixer with dough paddle), and mix. Add one cup of flour and pulse until well blended. Add the yeast mixture and the rest of the flour and pulse until it forms a ball of dough without sticking to the sides. 

On a lightly floured board, knead the dough for about 5 minutes, then shape into a ball, pinching the bottom so that the creases are sealed.
Brush a large bowl with a little olive oil and place the dough in it. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise, in a warm location, for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size.

Once doubled, remove the plastic wrap and punch a finger into the dough - it should be slow to rise - then it's ready. Place again on a lightly floured board, and knead again for about 2-3 minutes. Shape it again into a ball or oval. 

Heat oven to 450oF.
Sprinkle a little corn meal at the bottom of a dutch oven (such as Le Creuset) and place the dough in it. Cover, and let rest for about 30 minutes until doubled again. Spray with olive oil & make slits over the top with a sharp knife, sprinkle with coarse sea salt and bake for 30 - 40 minutes. Take the cover off, and continue baking for another 10 to 15 minutes - carefully watch it so that it doesn't burn ! Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. (If you want the crust to be very crispy, you may return the bread to the oven on it's own for about 5 minutes).

Delicious as it is, or served with a dipping sauce of olive oil and balsamic vinegar !

Tomato & Cilantro Salad

Tomato & Cilantro Salad
Time: prep. 10 minutes - standing time 10 minutes
Effort: Easy
Serves: 2-4

2 medium, ripe tomatoes, diced
1 tbsp. chopped cilantro
1 tbsp. chopped shallots (or onion or spring onions)
1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste

In a medium bowl, combine the cilantro, shallots, vinegar, oil and salt & pepper. Add the tomatoes and mix well so that the juice and seeds from the tomato become part of the sauce. Let stand for about 10 minutes before serving so that the flavours have a chance to blend together.

Shrimp & Rice Tostadas

Shrimp and Rice Tostadas
Time: 20 minutes
Effort: Easy
Serves 1

1 corn Tostada
3 large raw shrimp - peeled & deveined
2 tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. grated garlic
1 tsp. finely chopped parsley
1 small ripe tomato - sliced
1/2 cup pre-made or leftover rice*
Salt & Pepper to taste

Place the tostada on a small baking dish lined with parchment, fill it with the rice and lay 2 or 3 slices of tomato on top. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan, add the garlic and saute lightly,then add the parsley, salt and pepper and the shrimp. Saute again until the shrimp has just turned pink. Careful not to over cook them. Remove from heat.

Place the shrimp neatly on top of the tomatoes on the Tostada and drizzle with the remaining garlic/parsley butter.Broil on high for 1-2 minutes. 
Serve immediately with lemon wedges and mayonnaise (optional). 

Delicious as a light dinner or lunch main course along with your favorite salad !

*I used leftover rice pilaf that contained chopped red peppers, corn and shallots which made this recipe even tastier.

Boston Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing

Boston Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing

Time: 10 minutes
Effort: Very Easy
Serves: 2

8 leaves of crisp boston lettuce, washed and dried
1/2 cup blue cheese (such as Danish Blue, Stilton etc.) coarsely crumbled
1/2 cup good quality mayonnaise or home made (I always make home made mayo)
2 tbsp. plain yogurt
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Fresh radishes for garnish

Place the lettuce leaves on serving plates, arranged in a circle.
Combine the rest of the ingredients in a bowl until creamy, and spoon onto the arranged lettuce. Serve immediately.

Coarsely chop 4 rashers of bacon and fry until crisp. Sprinkle the bacon pieces over the salad and dressing and pour the hot bacon fat over the top. 

Crusted Baby Rack of Lamb

Crusted Baby Rack of Lamb
Time: 45 minutes
Effort: Easy
Serves: 2

1 baby rack of lamb (8 baby chops, prepared "hotel style")
4 tbsp Canola oil
1 cup fresh bread crumbs or Panko
4 garlic cloves, minced very fine
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
1 tsp. fresh or dried thyme
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
Fresh ground black pepper and sea salt to taste
1 tbsp. Balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. Sherry or Port

Heat oven to 475F. 

In a medium bowl, combine well the bread crumbs with 2 tbsp. canola oil, parsley, thyme and salt and pepper to taste. Spread the mixture on to a sheet of parchment paper and set aside.

In a heavy skillet, heat the remaining canola oil until very hot. Add the rack of lamb and sear on both sides until browned. Remove from heat, and spread the mustard evenly on both sides of the chops - avoiding the bones.

Lay the rack on the bread crumb mixture and using the palms of your hands, coat the chops with crumbs, pressing firmly down so it sticks well. Lay the chops in a roasting pan, wrap the boney ends in foil so they don't burn, and cook on the top oven rack for approximately 25 minutes or until the crumbs are nicely browned. (This will produce a medium-rare roast). If you prefer them more well done, cover the whole roast with foil and roast for another 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile, deglaze the skillet with balsamic vinegar and Sherry or Port and adjust seasoning to taste. 

Cut the roast in half and serve over the Sherry/Port sauce with your favorite vegetables.

(Shown here served with crispy brussels sprouts and bacon; oven roasted baby potatoes).

Shrimp & Spicy Guacamole

Shrimp & Spicy Guacamole
Time: 15 minutes
Effort: Easy
Serves: 2 - 4

12-14 large shrimp, pre-cooked & peeled, tail left on
3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 large, ripe avocado
1 medium hot red pepper, minced (I used the marinated ones in a jar)
1 tbsp. home made mayonnaise or a good quality store bought kind
Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tbsp. finely chopped cilantro
Taco rounds for dipping

Place the shrimp in a medium sized bowl and drizzle with 1 tbsp. lemon juice, combine well and set aside.

Halve the avocado and scoop out the flesh into a bowl. Mash with a fork or potato masher until almost smooth. Add the rest of the ingredients and combine well. Spoon the mixture into a serving bowl and drape the shrimp along the edge.

Serve immediately with small taco rounds for dipping (optional).

Steelhead Trout Tartare

Steelhead Trout Tartare
Time: 15 minutes
Effort: Easy
Serves: 1

1 medium to small steelhead or rainbow trout filet, sushi grade, skinned
Juice from 1/2 lemon
2 tsp. finely chopped fresh dill
1 tsp. chopped capers
1 tsp. chopped spring onions
1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 egg yolk (from a small egg)
Salt to taste
Fresh ground black pepper (a generous amount!)

On a large plastic cutting board or ceramic plate, coarsely chop the trout filet and place in a mixing bowl.
Add the rest of the ingredients and salt to taste, combining well. 
Scoop the mixture in a small bowl or ring-mold and turn onto a plate and serve immediately. (I served it as a main dish, alongside cold asparagus with dijon vinaigrette and slivers of sweet roasted beets).