Thai Red Curry Chicken with Avocado Foam

Wine-for-dinner---B-6720

Where do find your inspiration?

This past couple of weeks I have been bogged down with day to day living. I was not inspired to try new recipes, or to really cook for that matter.

So this weekend I packed my bag and headed off to see my sister, Cate, and brother in law, Chuck. They are both wonderful cooks and wine enthusiasts. My kind of people.

Since they live in the heart of Ontario’s Niagara wine region, visiting their beautiful home is like going to a resort. Weekends are filled with lunches out, wine tastings, and beautiful scenery. I also enjoy checking out the latest music playlists that Chuck has compiled from iTunes.

After an afternoon of visiting a local winery, we decided to crack open a great bottle of wine, turn on some music, and watch Chuck cook his famous Thai Red Curry Chicken.

Instant inspiration!

I am so happy that I took the time to connect with loved ones and let the rest of the world go past, while finding my inspiration.

thai-red-curry-chicken-B-6778

Thai Red Curry Chicken with Avocado

Ingredients:

2 tsp. coconut oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts sliced into bite-size pieces
1 tbsp. Thai red curry paste
1 cup zucchini, sliced
1 red bell pepper sliced into strips
½ medium onion, cut into chunks
1 cup mushrooms
1 can full fat coconut milk
1 avocado, peeled
½ jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely minced
⅓ cup of lime juice
4 tbsp. of water
salt to taste
2 tbsp. fresh cilantro, loosely chopped

Directions:

Heat the coconut oil at medium heat and brown the chicken. Add in the vegetables and cook until chicken is done and vegetables are slightly cooked but still firm.
Add the coconut milk and red curry paste, stir and simmer for five minutes.

thai-red-curry-chicken-cooking-B-6741

In a blender or food processor combine the avocado, jalapeno pepper, water and lime juice. Add water as necessary to thin. Add salt to taste. Mixture will become foamy.

Serve the Thai Red Curry Chicken over rice with a dollop of avocado mousse on top sprinkled with fresh cilantro.

Advertisements

Fresh Summer Salad of Cucumber, Fennel and Ricotta

What an eventful summer this has been!

I have been busy working on projects for my business including contributing to an article that will be featured in Resource Magazine’s fall issue on food photography. I have also been adding some lifestyle photography to my portfolio. I seems like the work has been non-stop and I am loving it!

The thing about being so busy is that I need to take some time to smell the flowers and enjoy the moments. After all, if we don’t take the time to look around us we lose our creativity and our sense of place.

Sunflower-103
 

My favourite flowers for this time of year are sunflowers. These shots were taken a while ago in Prince Edward County. I happened upon a field of sunflowers one day, I pulled over and just started shooting. There was a massive sea of yellow shining in the sun and the sight of it all was glorious!

sunflower-104

When I am busy I have trouble finding fresh ideas for my blog. When I need a shot of inspiration I read one of Nigel Slater’s books. Nigel is a talented British food writer and cook who has a way of making a simple dish come together like a symphony. I only discovered his work in the past year and I love it. The interesting thing about his style of cooking is that he says recipes are only guidelines and one should make them to their own liking, adding and subtracting ingredients as they wish.

I did not change this recipe as I wanted to taste the fresh, vibrant flavours of the avocado and fennel with the cucumber. I also love ricotta cheese when it is fresh and light. I enjoyed it as a main course for lunch but it would also be a fresh side dish at dinner.

cucumber-fennel-and-ricotta-salad-5173-Edit

Cucumber, Fennel and Ricotta Salad

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients:

1 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. sunflower oil
2 few drops balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3-4 sprigs fresh dill
1 English cucumber
1 avocado
1 small bulb fennel
¼ cup ricotta cheese
sprouted seeds

Directions:

For the Dressing:

Pour the lemon juice in a small bowl and add salt and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil and sunflower oil. Add the balsamic vinegar and dill. Taste to check the balance. It should be fresh but not sharp. Add more vinegar if necessary.

The salad:

Peel half a cucumber and remove the seeds with a spoon and cut into thick slices. Halve and finely slice the fennel bulb.

Peel and thickly slice the avocado and fold all of the ingredients into the dressing. Refrigerate for half and hour.

Sprinkle with tufts of sprouted beans.

Transfer to a serving dish and top with a large spoonful of the ricotta cheese.

Recipe from Eat by Nigel Slater

Wonderful Vegetarian Corn Soup with Avocado and Lime

corn-avocado-soup

Why are there so many competitive cooking shows on TV?

There is Master Chef, Recipes to Riches, Cutthroat Kitchen, My Kitchen Rules, just to name a few. What happened to educational programs like Cooking with Julia or Jacques Pepin where the chef prepared dishes and explained classic techniques as they went along.

What are we learning from watching people compete against one another to win cash or titles? Are the people who are disqualified lesser chefs, or did they just not do well under pressure? Are we learning how to cook or how to compete?

Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer a program filled with fresh ideas, demonstrations and tips on how to make the dish work. Show me a chef with a passion for food and some amazing ingredients. Then show me how they can turn those ingredients into mouth-watering dishes and I will give you my attention and I will come back for more.

I find my cooking inspiration from great chefs, home cooks and wonderful cookbooks. I am often found sitting curled up in an arm-chair, sipping a cup of tea, and pouring over a good cookbook or a beautiful magazine. I imagine the taste of each recipe and how I might tweak it to make it my own. I look for ones that include seasonal ingredients so the flavours will be fresh and delightful. I mark my favourite pages with sticky notes so when it is time to go shopping I can refer back to those recipes, easily, to make my list.

When I saw this recipe in Gourmet Traveller I was immediately inspired. I have changed the ingredients to suit my taste and to make it work as an easy vegetarian soup that is perfect for this time of year. I love the combination of the tomato and corn based soup with the freshness of the lime and avocado.

Corn Soup With Avocado and Lime

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

6 vine-ripened tomatoes, halved
14 oz. can Plum tomatoes, drained
1 Spanish onion, cut into wedges
1/4 cup olive oil
3 garlic gloves, finely chopped
4 cups vegetable stock
3 cups frozen corn
2 avocados, coarsely chopped
1 fresh lime, juiced
1 fresh lime, cut in wedges for serving
1/2 cup fresh coriander, coarsely chopped
Hot sauce, optional-add to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Place tomato halves, skin side up on a cookie sheet, add onion and drizzle with half of the olive oil. Place tray in the oven and cook 5 minutes or until the skin starts to blister. Remove the pan from the oven and remove skin from tomatoes.

Heat remaining oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and saute until tender. Add stock, roasted vegetables, canned tomatoes and bring to a simmer on medium-high heat. Season and simmer 10 minutes.

Pulse in the blender in batches until it is a coarse puree and return it to the pot. Add corn and bring back to a simmer for 5 minutes on medium heat, until the corn is tender.

Coarsely crush the peeled avocado in a bowl, add lime juice and coriander.

Serve soup in individual bowls topping each with the avocado mixture and serving with extra lime on the side.

Hot sauce can be added to taste. I left it out since I prefer a milder soup.

Recipe inspired by Gourmet Traveller Annual Cookbook-2013 Collectors Edition

Mango, Avocado and Chicken Salad

I have had the gift of mentorship in many areas of my life.

When I was young and just starting out in my career I had a boss who saw something in me that nobody else had seen. He saw that I was intelligent and that I could learn quickly and that I understood accounting, intuitively. He taught me everything about being a good accountant for the next 8 years and I attribute my career success to his teachings.

When I decided to become a photographer my brother, who is a great photographer, spent hours teaching me about lighting, cameras and composition. He took me on a workshop with Moose Petersen, Laurie Excell and Joe McNally to learn from the best. Any time I have a question about what to use or what might not be working as I want it to, I can call my brother and he will spend hours walking me through the hows and whys of photography. I attribute my success as a photographer to my brother.

When I decided to become healthier and more athletic I was blessed with another mentor. My dear friend is an experienced coach and accomplished athlete in his own right. Thankfully, he saw something in me that nobody else had ever seen. He spent this spring and summer coaching me to push myself beyond the limits that I only dreamed of. He taught me about cycling, about running, about training properly and about being a better person. He taught me that “if you can see it, you can get there”. I owe my ability to reach these milestones to his coaching, although I am still learning.

Each of these people had an impact on my life in a profound way and they all had something in common. They gave of themselves to teach and coach and they believed that I could learn. Their patience, time and selfless efforts have enabled me to learn about reaching higher, working harder and becoming a better person. For that I am eternally grateful and I continue to work on these areas of my life so I can grow.

My first impression of Gordon Ramsay was not as positive. I remember watching episodes of Hell’s Kitchen where he was screaming and swearing at the chefs in training. I thought that his manner was rough but his standards were high. Lately, I am seeing a different side to Gordon Ramsay and it is a more humane, caring side. He is a first class, Michelin starred chef and a world-class restauranteur but he also cares about teaching others.

This amazing salad is from his cookbook called Gordon Ramsay’s Healthy Appetite. The book is a compilation of healthy recipes that are as delicious as one would expect from such an amazing chef. I substituted roasted chicken breast for the smoked chicken as recommended in the book simply because I was unable to find smoked chicken in my neighbourhood.

Mango, Avocado and Chicken Salad

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

2 medium, firm but ripe mangoes
2 ripe avocados
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
10 oz. cooked chicken breasts
1 cup mixed salad leaves
2 tbsp. pine nuts, toasted

Dressing:

2 tbsp. orange juice
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. whole grain mustard
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. avocado oil
Sea salt and black pepper

Directions:

Peel the mangoes and cut the flesh away from the seed into thin slices. Arrange onto four serving plates.

Halve the avocados and remove the pit. Peel off the skin and slice the flesh into strips. Squeeze over a little lemon juice and then arrange over the mango slices.

Cut the chicken into thin slices and divide between the plates. Neatly pile the salad leaves in the middle.

For the dressing, whisk the ingredients together in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the dressing over the salad, top with a handful of toasted pine nuts and serve.

Recipe adapted from Gordon Ramsay’s Healthy Appetite.