Nicoise Salad

nicoise salad - trust in kim

Niçoise salad makes a great meal salad. I made this one in the summer, and am finally getting around to posting it now.  Of course you can make it in the winter, but just make sure to try to get the freshest tasting ingredients.  A good bet for tasty winter tomatoes is to buy cherry tomatoes; they seem to have more flavour. It is still September, so I still have a few tomatoes on the vine that I’m going to use to make this again soon.

Oops! I never measure when I make salad dressings, so I’ve given approximations. When the dressing is mixed you’ll have to taste and see if you need a little more of anything.

Part of what makes this a successful recipe is that you add some of the dressing to the potatoes while they are hot. When they are still hot they absorb the dressing really well. No more of those cold, bland potatoes sitting on the side of your niçoise salad!

What you need for the salad:

  • one large free-range egg per person
  • tomatoes
  • fresh green beans, or a mixture of green and yellow
  • tender salad greens
  • new potatoes, cut in half
  • olives (niçoise if you can find them – I could not – kalamata work too)
  • (niçoise salad often has tuna on it; add that if you wish)

For the dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • white wine vinegar
  • olive oil

What you do:

  1. Begin by placing the eggs in a small pot; cover with a lid and let this heat up until they have just barely reached a boil.  Now turn off the heat, keep the lid on and set the timer for 12 minutes. Pour the hot water out of the pot and place the eggs in cold water. There are many methods for boiling egg – in this one we don’t actually boil it; boiling an egg makes it tougher.  12 minutes works for a large egg; use more or less time with different sizes of eggs, and longer if you are at a high altitude. When they have cooled (I actually like to add them when they are still slightly warm) you can peel and quarter them.
  2. Place the halved potatoes in a pot with some salted water and bring to a boil.  Cook until you can pierce the potato easily with a sharp knife. You will need to prepare the dressing while they are cooking.
  3. Chop the onion.  Add the Dijon, sugar, a pinch of salt and a few grindings of pepper to a bowl. Mix the onion into this.  Now slowly add a few tablespoons of white wine vinegar as you mix with a fork until combined.  Drizzle in a few tablespoons of olive oil, constantly mixing with the fork, and stopping to taste as you go. Add as much olive oil as you think tastes good, then adjust the salt and pepper to taste.
  4. When the potatoes are cooked, drain the water.  Keep the potatoes in the pot and add about half of the dressing to them while they are still hot, and then give them a gentle stir.  Set them aside to cool.
  5. Bring another liberally salted pot of water to a boil while you clean and cut the ends off the beans. Some of the salt will absorb into the beans as they cook. Have a large bowl of ice water waiting for the beans when they come out. Cook them for only a few minutes; they should still be bright green and tender-crisp. I say better to err on the side of undercooked. As soon as they are done, drain the boiling water and add the beans to the ice bath. Leave them there until completely cooled.  This stops the cooking process, so you don’t end up with sad wilted beans. I like to drain them and then roll them in a clean dish cloth to dry them off.
  6. Wash the tomatoes and cut into wedges if you are not using cherry tomatoes.
  7. Toss the salad greens with a little bit of dressing, then arrange on the plate.  Decorate with the beans, potatoes, eggs tomatoes and olives. You can add a drizzle more dressing if you want. I like to add another little sprinkle of salt and pepper to the top.


Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies

chocolate and cream cheese brownie - trust in kim

These chocolate cheesecake brownies are from an old handwritten recipe in a book I started over twenty years ago to store my recipes. All I have is the recipe with no reference, so I can’t give proper credit to whomever created this one. But it was always a crowd pleaser, and it made a lot of people very happy when I brought it to work yesterday. I like the cream cheese part, but for me the brownie is the shining star – it is dense and rich and chocolatey.

Although the recipe has two steps, it is really easy and quite quick to whip up.  I like recipes that don’t require softening the butter before beginning, because I always forget to take it out of the fridge ahead of time and then have to wait a long time for it to soften.  In this one you melt the butter, so no need to soften. You do, however, need to soften the cream cheese – but I cheated by putting it in the microwave for a few seconds.

Instead of regular cream cheese I used Tofutti.  It turned out fine, but I think it is better with the real thing.  Tofutti is a great product, but in this case it ended up being a little thinner than I would have liked.

What you need for the cream cheese layer:

  • 250 grams cream cheese (not the spreadable kind)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

What you need for the brownie layer:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

What you do:

  1. Grease a 9-inch baking pan with a little butter.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  3. In a mixing bowl beat the cream cheese, then gradually add the sugar, egg and vanilla.  Beat until smooth.
  4. To make the brownie layer melt the butter, then pour it into another mixing bowl.  Stir in the cocoa.
  5. Beat in the sugar, vanilla and 2 eggs. I use the same beaters that still have a little bit of the cream cheese mixture on them to beat this – no need to wash in between, speeds things up!
  6. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together (in reality I don’t do this very often, but you can do it if you want.) Mix until combined.
  7. Pour the brownie mixture into the pan and smooth it down.  Then pour the cream cheese mixture over top of it. I like to run a knife through it to mix the two up a little.
  8. Bake for 40-45 minutes.  I like to go with the shorter amount of time because I really like them when they are moist. Everybody else seems to agree!


Roasted Pepper and Tomato soup

roasted pepper and tomato soup - trust in kim


This is a flavourful, somewhat spicy, and quite healthy soup – a perfect storm for me.

I created this soup to use up some chicken stock and red peppers that I had in my fridge, as well as some fresh corn that a friend brought over.  I’ve never made such a big batch of chicken stock, and ran out of room in my tiny freezer – this was a great way to use it up.  It’s got roasted bell and poblano peppers, as well as a dried ancho chile pureed into the tomatoes – I think the anchos are what takes this recipe to the next level, and I will definitely use this strategy of adding flavour into recipes in the future.

This would be great topped with avocado, or cilantro, or some Mexican crumbling cheese. And a wedge of lime to squeeze in.

Just a word about the roasted peppers: I know that some people like to get rid of every trace of the skin by washing the peppers, but I like to keep little bits of the skin on. This way it reminds me of the amazing sauces I ate in Mexico.  You always knew they were homemade and delicious if they had those flecks of black skin in them.

What you need:

  • 1 dried ancho chile
  • 1 – 398mL/14 oz fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 red, orange or yellow bell pepper
  • 1 poblano pepper
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 a large sweet onion, diced
  • 1 chicken breast or 2 thighs (omit for vegetarians!)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 – 425 grams / 15 oz can of pinto beans, drained
  • 2 ears of fresh corn (substitute with peaches and cream canned corn  – I don’t personally like frozen)
  • 4-6 cups chicken broth (substitute vegetable broth)
  • optional:
  • lime
  • avocado
  • Mexican crumbling cheese
  • cilantro
  • hot sauce for those who like it

What you do:

  1. Roast the peppers over a gas stove or barbecue, turning frequently with tongs until all the skin is charred and black.  Place in a container fitted with a lid until it cools a bit, 10-15 minutes.
  2. Roast the dry ancho chile very briefly over the flame, then remove the stem and seeds.  Add this to a blender along with the can of tomatoes.  Puree until smooth.
  3. In a large pot over a medium flame drizzle in a little olive oil (I use less than 1 tablespoon).  Add the onions and cook, stirring from time to time, for a few minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for another few minutes, but don’t let the garlic brown.
  4. Add the chicken, if you are using it, and let that cook for a few minutes before pouring in the broth and tomato/ancho mixture. Let this simmer for 15-20 minutes. Remove the chicken and chop it up, then add it back to the soup.
  5. Meanwhile, remove the blackened skin from the peppers, then remove the stem and seeds.   Chop the peppers, then add them to the soup.
  6. Drain and rinse the beans and add them to the soup.  Cut the corn off the cobs and add that to the soup.  Let this simmer for a few minutes, then season with salt and a little pepper to taste.
  7. Garnish with toppings of your choice.

Green Chile Chicken Soft Tacos

green chile chicken soft tacos - trust in kim

Last weekend I got together with some friends and made an amazing Mexican meal.  We made our own soft corn tortillas with various salsa toppings, and this awesome chicken filling.   We also had some homemade refried beans and a nice light jicama salad. And of course some beer – Negro Modelo is my favourite Mexican beer because it is a little darker than most.

This is another Rick Bayless recipe, from his Mexican Everyday cookbook.  So far every recipe of his that I’ve tried has been so delicious, and the meals I had at his restaurant Xoco in Chicago were out of this world.

You can buy the tortillas if you don’t want to make them; just warm them up before serving. The homemade ones were the best, but a lot of work. If you get everyone involved and have a bit of an assembly line going it could be fun (well, I think so, but other people seemed to disagree that this this might be an option for next time).

This recipe serves about 4 people.

I like for people to be able to dress up their tacos to their liking, so it’s great to have a variety of toppings.  Here’s a list of possibilities (you don’t have to do them all!); I would choose at least two salsas and a few other items.

What you need for the chicken filling:

  • 2 large poblano peppers
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
  • 1 large white onion, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
  • salt
  • about 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • jalapeno or other hot pepper slices

What you do:

  1. Roast the poblano peppers over a gas stove or a barbecue, turning often with tongs.  The skin should become all black.  Place the peppers in a sealable container and leave for about 15 minutes to cool and let the skins soften.
  2. Turn your oven on very low.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until they are golden but still have a bit of crunch to them. Place these in a heatproof container and put in the oven to keep warm.
  4. Rub most of the blackened skin off the peppers and remove the stem and seeds.  Cut into 1/4 inch strips and add to the onions. Season with salt and return to the oven.
  5. Sprinkle the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Place the skillet on medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of oil. Lay the chicken in the pan when the oil is hot. Brown on one side for about 5 minutes, then the other for about 4 minutes. When the meat has cooked add the lime juice and garlic to the skillet. Cook for about a minute, turning the chicken to coat in the lime juice, until the lime had formed a glaze over the chicken. (We didn’t cook the chicken all the way through in the pan – we added the garlic and lime and let it glaze the chicken, and we threw the chicken on the grill before slicing it – this gave it that nice smoky flavour).
  6. Cut the chicken into 1/4  inch strips and toss with the onions and poblano peppers. Taste and see if you need to add more salt.
  7. Serve in fresh warm tortillas with a choice toppings.

homemade tacos - trust in kim

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa – Salsa de Tomate Verde Asado

roasted tomatillo salsa - trust in kim

Since eating at Rick Bayless’s Xoco Restaurant in Chicago earlier this year I’ve been trying out a few of his recipes.  This one is from his Mexican Everyday cookbook. It was delicious with chicken tacos, especially for lovers of heat it their salsa.  If you tend to shy away from heat you can either use less of the hot pepper, or serve it with some sour cream or plain yogurt to temper the heat.

I really liked this salsa, but in the future I would likely go back to my usual method of roasting over a flame.  I think I prefer that kind of char on the tomatillos.

This is also good over scrambled eggs!

What you need:

  • 4 medium (8 oz) tomatillos, husked, rinsed and cut in half
  • 2 whole large garlic cloves
  • 2 serrano or 1 jalapeno pepper (or less if you’re averse to heat) stemmed and finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup loosely packed and chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
  • salt

What you do:

  1. Place a cast-iron or non-stick pan over medium-high heat.  Lay the tomatillos in the pan cut-side down, then add the garlic cloves.  After about 3-4 minutes, when the tomatillos are browned, turn them and the garlic over to brown the other side.  At this point the tomatillos should be very soft.
  2. Scrape the contents of the pan into a blender and let it cool to room temperature.  Add the chiles, cilantro (do not add the cilantro if you won’t be serving right away) and 1/4 cup of water. Blend until coarsely pureed.
  3. Rinse the onion then strain it.  Stir into the salsa and add salt to taste, about 1/2 teaspoon. If you are not going to serve this right away it is best to wait to add the onion and cilantro until shortly before you serve it.

roasted tomatillo salsa on tacos - trust in kim

Banh Mi Wraps – Gluten-free, Vegan & Scrumptious

banh mi wrap - trust in kim

This is a little something I invented for a super healthy dinner recently.  This summer I tasted my first Banh Mi sandwich, a Vietnamese dish which seems to be very popular these days.  I loved it, but I wanted to make a healthier version, and something for people who can’t eat gluten or are trying to stay away from it.  So I made this version with tons of veggies, and chose to put in tofu instead of meat.  I also made it once with shrimp, but I preferred the tofu version because the sauce it is made in is so yummy. If you substitute meat make sure it is something with a flavourful sauce – there are tons or recipes available on the internet.

So the idea for the rice paper wrap is mine, but the sauce for the tofu comes from Mark Bittman.  I made his recipe a little simpler by using the tofu right out of the package; his recipe calls for cutting, freezing and thawing the tofu – way too much work! And it also tasted great this way.

You can alter the fillings, but it really needs to have some cilantro, cucumbers, jalapeno slices, pickled carrots, and something with a sauce, like tofu or meat.

What you need for the caramelized tofu:

  • 1 – 14 oz package extra-dry tofu
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 & 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce (or use 2 & 1/2 tablespoons more soy if you don’t use fish sauce)
  • 2 & 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar

What you need for the pickled carrot daikon:

  • 1 large grated or julienned carrot (and some daikon if you want)
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar or honey
  • a large pinch of salt
  • a large pinch of red chili flakes

What you need for the rest of the wraps:

  • cucumber cut into matchsticks
  • Sriracha sauce
  • cilantro, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper cut into matchsticks (optional)
  • 1/2 cup spinach, chopped (optional)
  • pea shoots (optional)
  • spring onions, sliced

What you do:

  1. Make the pickled carrots/daikon ahead of time. Just combine the water, rice vinegar, sugar or honey, salt and chili flakes and stir to combine.  Then add the carrot and give it a little stir.  Let this sit for at least 1/2 hour or overnight.  I made mine a day ahead of time. Double the recipe if you add daikon.
  2. Thinly slice the onion.
  3. To make the caramelized tofu put the sugar into a large skillet over medium-low heat  with 1 tablespoon of water. Cook for about 10 minutes, shaking the pan from time to time, but not stirring – not stirring is an important to get your sugar to caramelize properly.  ( watch a video on how to caramelize here) It will be done when it is a golden brown colour. When the sugar has caramelized, slowly add the soy sauce and fish sauce. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, for about 8-10 minutes, or until the onion is softened. Add the tofu and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes or until the tofu has absorbed a lot of the sauce.  Add the tablespoon of rice vinegar and remove from the heat.
  4. Boil some water to prepare the rice paper.
  5. Get all your topping chopped and ready to assemble the wraps.
  6. To prepare the rice paper, pour some very hot water into a dinner plate or shallow pan.  Place one sheet of rice paper into the water and let it sit for a few seconds, until it becomes more pliable, but not so much that it tears apart easily.
  7. Remove the rice paper from the water and place fillings in the middle, leaving room to fold the edges into a wrap.  Add vegetables and tofu with sauce, then top with some jalapeno slices and Sriracha sauce to your liking. Fold the bottom of the rice paper part way up then fold the left and right sides over each other, leaving the top open.
  8. Eat it right away. The rice paper doesn’t like to be kept waiting, and will turn crusty. I like to let people add what they like to their own wraps, so I just lay out all the options and they can go to it.

banh mi toppings - trust in ki

X’nipek / Yucatan Red Onion Salsa

x'nipek - trust in kim

Here is another of the recipes I learned in Tulum, Mexico at a cooking class I took at Altamar Restaurant. I love to put a few strips of this on top of a taco.  Yes, it is quite hot because of the Habanero chili, but you could use a piece of banana pepper instead if you’re afraid of the heat, or just leave it out altogether.  It is a really simple recipe, and it only needs to sit for about half hour before consuming, but I prefer it after it has sat overnight or even a few days.

What you need:

  • 100 grams red onion
  • 100 ml sour orange juice (or lemon juice with a little orange juice mixed in)
  • 10 grams Habanero chili

What you do:

  1. Roast the Habanero on a gas stove or barbecue until it has blackened slightly all over.  Chop it very finely.  Only use a little piece of it if you want this to be milder.
  2. Slice the red onion as thinly as you can and put it into a bowl or jar.  Add the Habanero to the onions, then pour the orange/lemon juice over the top.  Give it a little stir, then cover and refrigerate for half an hour or overnight.
  3. Serve on tacos, empanadas, or another favourite Mexican dish.  A little sour cream or plain yogurt will help cut the heat.
x'nipek on tacos - trust in kim

X’nipek on tacos


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