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Notable Nosh: Dublin Nachos

Dublin Nachos 01

I had this rather novel, if decidedly un-Irish, snack food at the Halifax Alehouse during my visit to Nova Scotia this past July. The menu, at this rather pleasant Pub, describes their special Nachos as ‘thinly sliced potatoes piled with tomatoes, green onions, black olives, jalapeno peppers, and bacon, covered with our mixed blend and feta cheese.’ It sounded interesting (and perhaps was, I suppose), but I can’t really say I feel an overwhelming urge to indulge a second time…

Making an ‘Irish’ version of Nachos using potato is rather a clever idea, I grant you, but the execution was a bit less appealing. One of the pleasures of traditional nachos is the contrast of textures between the toppings and the crisp chips… Nearly soggy potato slices don’t quite ‘cut it’, sad to say.

I liked the toppings, actually… Feta and Black Olive is not standard and is something I’ll try on my own Nachos sometime. As for the Irish-Mexican fusion, a little work needs to be done… Chimichangas made with Boxty, maybe?

Potato Mizuna Nimono

Mizuna Potato Nimono 01

During my vacation from writing blog posts over this past summer, I was experimenting quite a bit with the Japanese class of dishes known as ‘Nimono’ or ‘Simmered Things’. Essentially, these are dishes in which the main ingredients are simmered in a ‘Shiru’, or broth, chiefly made with Dashi and other seasonings such as Soy, Mirin, or Miso. I will be looking at quite a few different sorts of Nimono in the upcoming months but today’s post illustrates a very simple example of the technique and allows me to use some of the Mizuna my wife grew over the summer…  Read more

Basil Pimento Crostini

Pimento Basil Crostini 1

Today’s post barely counts as a recipe, as such… rather it’s just a short record of something I improvised one afternoon and which turned out well enough to try again… By way of background, my wife planted Basil this summer (three sorts actually) and needed to thin out the crop a little. Accordingly, I was directed to ‘make something that needs Basil’. I already had substantial meal plans for the next several days and so I opted to use the leaves my wife provided to me in an appetizer…

I used about ½ a cup of (as yet, tiny) leaves and chopped them very finely. I mixed the result with a little of my home-made Garlic Oil along with a little black pepper and ended up with something a bit like a very rustic pesto. I grilled some baguette slices and topped them with the ‘pesto’ and the sprinkled on some nice ‘stretchy’ Mozzarella. Next, I added a couple of strips of my own Roasted Red Peppers put on some more cheese, and garnished each crostini with a slice of black olive. A few minutes under the grill melted the cheese nicely and a little sprinkle of dried dill gave a nice little touch of color before serving.

Next time, I may try a sharper cheese but the result here was very nice and I am sure you can all things of lots of great ideas to ‘riff’ on the basic idea…

Basic Kofta

Basic Kofta 01

Ground meat preparations are ubiquitous and occur in virtually every culinary tradition. However, there is one particular sort of meatball or patty whose range extends from India, where they are known as ‘Kofta’, through Iran, where they grace the table as ‘Kufteh’, and thence on to Turkey where cooks prepare yet another variety called ‘Köfte’. Elsewhere, from the Balkans, the Middle East, and North Africa, they occur as qofte, ćufta, kefta and kifta, and, although there are innumerable regional and national variations, it is clear the origin is the same. Today, I am preparing a variety that is almost as basic as you can get… It represents no actual variety in particular, but, with very few changes or substitutions, could stand in for just about any of the classic forms… Read more

Foodstuff: Mizuna

Mizuna 01

Mizuna isn’t particularly widely used, or even known, outside Japanese cuisine (although it has thus far managed to attract enough attention in the West to acquire the English name ‘Japanese Mustard’). The most common variety, pictured above, is very similar to the common salad herb known as ‘Arugula’ (across most of North America) or ‘Rocket’ (in the UK)… The appearance is very similar and they both taste quite a bit alike except that the Mizuna is a milder and not quite as sharp. For those who are not familiar with Arugula, the taste of Mizuna is perhaps best described as being like a Bibb lettuce with a more peppery quality …  Read more

Grilled Tilapia

Grilled Tilapia 01

Until recently, my only experience with Tilapia was as small, otherwise unidentifiable, fillets or chinks served to me in restaurants; I had never seen, much less cooked, the whole article and, when I saw some in my local store freezer I couldn’t resist.

I actually purchased the one you see above about a year ago. I originally planned to steam it, as I recall but, as sometimes happens, it was put into the freezer and then forgotten. Luckily, when it came to light during a periodic culinary ‘spring cleaning’, it seemed to have survived quite well without any signs of ‘freezer-burn’ or other decrepitude. Still, it needed to be used fairly soon and, as I was alone for the week, and had lovely weather, I decided to see how it might do on the barbecue grill…  Read more

Tzatziki

Tzatziki 01

Condiments and side dishes based on Yoghurt, especially when paired with cucumber, are popular all the way from Eastern Europe, through the Middle East, Central Asia, and across India. The Greek variety known as Tzatziki has a counterpart in the Turkish Cacik , Iranian ‘Mast-o-khiar’, an Afghan sauce for grilled meats, and also the popular Cucumber Raita used in Indian cuisine as a ‘cool-down’ accompaniment to spicy-hot dishes.

A basic Tzatziki generally consists of Yoghurt, chopped or grated cucumber, garlic and olive oil, but parsley, mint, dill, lemon juice are often added as well. It is always served cold and, while it can be served just as a dip with pita bread, or even crudités (for example), it commonly appears as a sauce for grilled meats. It is not a standard use, but adding sugar allows a tzatziki to make a pretty decent ‘Donair’ type sauce as well…  Read more

Roasting Red Peppers…

Roasting Red Peppers 01

Roasted Red Peppers that have been marinated in olive oil make a lovely Italian Antipasto style Appetizer but they are great to have on hand for a variety of other uses. They can be added to a whole variety of more complex hot and cold dishes, are fantastic when pureed for sauces and condiments, make great garnishes when sliced or dices attractively, and, on a more pedestrian level, go great on sandwiches and wraps. You can buy some fairly decent pre-made varieties in jars, or occasionally in bulk from the deli section of the supermarket, but they are easy enough to prepare at home and the results are far better… Read more

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