Today's post features the return of my fabulous guest chef, Sarah, who made me breakfast and lunch, and the debut of my newest guest chef, Steve, who made us dinner! Steve is a good friend (and Sarah's husband) who makes a mean lettuce wrap AND is one of the funniest people I know! Scroll, read, learn, and laugh. Everything is in Sarah and Steve's words except for a few *notes from me. Sarah and Steve spoil me ridiculously every time I visit them, so I'm happy to have a chance to say THANK YOU!
Breakfast - Wintertime Fish Chowder
* Note - Sarah was slightly appalled, but yes, I did eat this for breakfast. It was delicious, and gave me lots of sustainable energy for a busy day with a late lunch!
1 box Campbell’s Gluten Free Vegetable stock (it’s not quite 1L)
1 package frozen fish fillets (4 per pack, I like Haddock or Tilapia)
4 large potatoes peeled and diced into 1-inch cubes
1 medium onion finely chopped
2 or 3 green onions finely chopped
8 strips of bacon chopped into 1 inch pieces
¼ cup heavy cream
Fry bacon over medium heat in the bottom of your medium sized pot until it is brown and crispy. Remove bacon pieces and set them aside.
Fry onions over medium heat in the pot you cooked the bacon in (yes, in the bacon fat) until they’re golden brown
Add the box of broth and the potatoes to the pot with the fried onions and simmer (covered) until potatoes are tender (about 15 -20 minutes on medium)
Add the frozen fish, pushing the frozen fillets down into the hot broth, and cover the pot again. You’re basically ‘poaching’ the fish in the soup. Keep it bubbling on medium for another 5 minutes or so. The fish cooks through very quickly. The fish is done when it is opaque and the fillets flake apart when you give the pot a stir.
Remove from heat. Stir in the heavy cream. Portion the soup into bowls and top with the green onion and bacon bits. Makes 4 meal-sized servings.
Lunch - Roasted Root Vegetable Hummus
1 large carrot
1 medium sweet potato
1 medium parsnip
10-12 peeled garlic cloves
¾ cup raw sesame seeds
2 tbsp light olive oil
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
Juice of one large lemon (avoid substituting with the bitter ‘real lemon’ stuff you get in a bottle if you can)
1 large can drained and rinsed chick peas
Salt and pepper to taste
Peel and chop the carrot, parsnip, and sweet potato into small cubes. Toss them in a bowl with 1 tbsp of olive oil and lightly season with salt and pepper to taste. Place them in a pyrex baking dish and roast them in the oven until tender (approximately 30-40 minutes at 350? I’m guessing here... I just stick a fork in them and when the pieces are soft they’re done. I’m sorry I can’t be more precise).
In a food processor, combine the sesame seeds, remaining tbsp of olive oil, and the tbsp of sesame oil, and process on high until you have a sesame paste (use approximately 1/3 to 1/2 cup of prepared tahini if you don’t want to make your own, I have just discovered that sesame seeds keep better than tahini does and, since I don’t use it often enough, when I buy prepared tahini half of it always gets wasted).
Once sesame paste is smooth, add remaining ingredients (lemon juice, then roasted vegetables and chickpeas) and process until smooth and well blended. If you find that the mixture is too dry to process easily in the food processor, add water a little bit at a time until you achieve the consistency you are looking for
Makes about four cups.
Dinner - Lettuce Wraps
Part 1: Rice
Boil, steam or otherwise cook your favourite rice. We use Tilda’s Basmati rice. To cook this rice, we first rinse the grains in cold water until water runs clear. Determine how much rice you want. 1 cup of rice serves four people, usually with rice left over.
-Bring 2 cups of water to a boil.
-Add 1 cup of rinsed rice to boiling water, stir, cover, and immediately reduce heat to low (2 out of 10 if your stovetop has numbers).
-Add salt and butter if you wish, but it's not a requirement.
-Simmer in a covered pot for 15-20 minutes until water is absorbed.
-Remove from heat and let sit (still covered) for another 5-10 minutes.
-Fluff with a fork before serving.
Part 2: Stir-Fry
1 "container" of lean or extra lean ground chicken, around 450 grams or 1lb (serves 3 to 4 people)
2 green Thai chilies (as per photo)
5 fresh garlic cloves
LOTS of fresh ginger (one large knob which is almost 1/2 cup once its shredded) (more or less according to your taste)
A glug? (my wife says about 3Tbsp) of toasted sesame oil (make sure the bottom of your frying pan is good and covered in the oil)
Half a bottle of General Tao sauce (more or less depending on you)
1 each of red, orange and yellow peppers (diced)
*Note - I have no guarantee that the stir-fry sauce is gluten-free. I looked over the ingredients and the warnings (contains soy and sesame) and decided I was comfortable eating it.
Chop, shred, food process the chilies, garlic and ginger and then throw it all in the pan to simmer on low in the sesame oil. I find it infuses the oil with all the flavours of the three ingredients which in turn will make the chicken taste better.
Let that simmer on low for five or ten minutes while you dice the peppers.
Put the chicken in once the peppers are diced. Keep the heat just a little bit below half. It needs to start cooking but you're going to be busy with the lettuce cups and you don't want to worry about it burning so...put the chicken in. Add three or four good cranks of salt and pepper, stir occasionally.
Now you can start working on the lettuce cups. While the chicken simmers, you can start with the cups. TAKE YOUR TIME! If you're rammy, you will tear the lettuce and do a cruddy job. Remember that the cups are going to be the vessels that deliver your stir fry. They need to be in good if not great condition. I use scissors to trim off the floppy or unpleasant looking bits and usually you need to get about two layers down with the head of lettuce before you start getting respectable leaves to turn into cups. Stir your chicken. For your first time...it might get frustrating. That's why you bought the extra head of lettuce right? Stir your chicken. The extra head of lettuce will give you some breathing room. Eventually you will get to down a smaller, more compact center of the head. Stir your chicken. Leave that and move onto the next head. You will have lettuce left over and I suggest you shred it for the tacos you're making later in the week. ;) Or salad or give it to your pet rabbits or...make a decorative lamp out of it and put it on Pinterest. Take your lettuce cups and put them in the fridge, NOT the freezer. You'll do that later.
Part 3: Lettuce Cups
I use iceberg lettuce for it’s crunch and cupped shape. Other lettuce can be used if preferred, or required, but iceberg lettuce has the best crunch and shape (in my opinion) My wife like leaf or bib lettuce. Bib lettuce is like iceberg lettuce…but less crispy, crunchy and delicious. ;) However…when we order meals similar to this at restaurants, it always comes with bib lettuce. If you wish to make the inferior version…bib lettuce. Superior? Iceberg. I like to serve the cups "chilled" because I enjoy the mixture of “cold” lettuce and “hot” stir fry. Depending on the quality and size of the heads of lettuce; for four people you'll want at least three. (If it's your first time, get one additional head of lettuce. Your kung fu might not be strong with lettuce dissection. You'll most likely muddle it up a bit.)
Remove, wash, and trim all the outer leaves that are suitable for wrapping (hopefully you’ll get as many as 8 per head). I use a clean pair of scissors to make the cups look presentable.
Also...about five to ten minutes before serving, I like to chill the cups. If it's winter...rad...just put them outside. If it's not winter, put them in the freezer. BE CAREFUL. If you put the cups in the freezer or out in the cold for too long, they will freeze and then when they thaw they get slimy and unpleasant. Check on your cups often! I repeat…if you screw this up and let them chill too long the lettuce cups will become slimy and unpleasant…like…really. So, pay attention to your cups.
Once the cups are done...check on the chicken. Find a cooked bit and taste it. You should get a taste of the seasonings and what not, but you also get a bit of heat from the thai chilies. It's more of a tingly heat and it doesn't last long. This is what you want. You can also use this moment to add more salt, pepper, garlic, ginger etc...
Crank up the heat under the chicken and get it browning. Now you add the diced peppers and let all that cook for about three minutes. While this cooks, move the lettuce cups from the fridge to the freezer.
Then you throw in a couple good glugs of General Tao sauce into the chicken and peppers and stir it all up. Let it all cook for another three to five minutes depending on how crunchy you want the peppers. (short time for crunchy peppers – long time for squishy peppers)
Take the chicken off the heat. Start getting the rice and chicken into separate bowls with tablespoons for serving. Get those on the table. Get the cups out of the freezer and put them on the table.
You can have some plum sauce handy for those that might want it.
Take a cup. Put two or three table spoons of rice in it. Put two or three table spoons of chicken in it. Fold the lettuce cup around it and EAT QUICKLY. Lettuce wraps are great but their lifespans are worse than mayflies.
They go down fast and you will eat more of these than you would normal tacos. They're smaller *much like Sarah and Steve's daughter enjoying her lettuce wrap in the photo below :)
What I Eat
I want to give you an idea of how to eat healthfully on a restricted diet, without a lot of work, by showing you how I eat! I eat strictly gluten-free. You'll find A LOT of veggies in this blog! I eat both fish and meat a few times a week (local and/or humane, whenever possible), and dairy when I'm visiting family and friends, or eating out. I hope you find this blog inspiring and interesting!