Fire-Roasted Tomato Salsa

This flame-roasted tomato salsa is excellent any time of year, even in the cooler seasons when it is challenging to access super tasty tomatoes. It’s really easy to whip up, but you do need to plan ahead so that you will have some roasted garlic on hand. I’ve started roasting a bunch of garlic bulbs and freezing them so I can make this awesome salsa anytime I want. I have served it with tortilla chips, but my favourite way to eat it is on beans and rice.

Recently I’ve been buying a lot of the Las Margaritas fresh salsa – it is just so good! But I can only find it in one store, and it is often sold out. So the difficulty finding it, combined with the nearly $8.00 price tag, made me start looking for a way to make it at home.

And . . . I found it! In the Thug Kitchen Cookbook! Yay!

I only made one change to the recipe, and it was a tiny one. I used sweet onions, and typically use them in all my recipes that call for onion because they don’t make me cry as much, plus I think they taste better. The most recent time I made this salsa I didn’t have any green onions, and it was still really good without them.

If you are looking for a fresh tomato salsa you can find one here, and this is a link to a creamy avocado salsa called gaucamolata. This roasted tomatillo salsa is also really flavourful.

What you need:

  • 1 can (398mL / 14.5 oz.) fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1/3 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1-3 Serrano peppers, minced (depending on how much heat you like)
  • a whole head of roasted garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoons ground cumin
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • salt to taste

What you do:

  1. Chop the onion, green onions, cilantro and Serrano pepper.
  2. Put all the ingredients (except for the salt) in a blender, or use an immersion blender to whiz everything up. Leave it a little bit chunky.
  3. Add salt to taste.
  4. Enjoy!

Mushroom Pâté (Instant Pot Version)

This week I bought an Instant Pot, so I’m now busy trying recipes to get a sense of how it works. I’ve tried out a few recipes, and I’m learning how to tweak them in ways that I enjoy. You can totally make this in a pot on your stove too!

This one is a delicious winner! It has a nice creamy texture and lovely flavours of mushroom, white wine, butter and olive oil. So nice on a piece of toasted bread or crostini! It satisfies those umami cravings. For me this was a part of a picnic spread of cheese, mushroom pate, bean salad, and some veggies.

I made a few changes to the original recipe: In my instructions I have clarified a few details that were not well-described in the Instant Pot Recipe Booklet, and some that were omitted. I used a combination of dried mushrooms instead of just porcini. I also cooked off some of the moisture after pressure cooking because it seemed to liquidy. I added pepper at the end instead of before cooking (I think cooked pepper tastes more butter), and I topped up the liquid in the dried mushrooms with white wine instead of water – yum! I transferred my mushroom mixture to a food processor instead of using an immersion blender because I wanted to make sure I had a really creamy paté; I’m sure the immersion blender does a nice job too – and who doesn’t love fewer dishes!!! I also used a high quality olive oil to add in the last stage. I might also drizzle some on the top in the future!

Next time I will add a sprig of rosemary to the pot before it cooks – doesn’t that sound delicious?

The recipe serves 4-6 people. Or two. If you are self-isolating or just selfish.

What you need:

  • 3/4 cup dried mushrooms, rinsed
  • boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon butter (use olive oil for vegan recipe)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • 500 grams (1 lb) cremini or white button mushrooms (thinly sliced)
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine (plus a little more)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon good quality olive oil
  • freshly cracked pepper, to taste
  • 3 tablespoons good quality Parmesan cheese, finely grated (use vegan Parmesan for vegan recipe)

What you do:

  1. Place the dry mushrooms in a measuring cup. Pour boiling water over them until it reaches just over 3/4 cup. Push the mushrooms down, then put a tight lid or plastic wrap over the measuring cup.
  2. Slice the shallots and mushrooms.
  3. Add the olive oil and butter to the Instant Pot, then sauté the shallots for a minute. Add the sliced mushrooms and sauté until they are golden brown (mine didn’t get golden, and it was awesome anyways).
  4. Pour the 1/4 cup wine in and allow to evaporate.
  5. Add the mushrooms and their soaking liquid, along with an extra splash of wine. Add the salt and bay leaf.
  6. Close and lock the lid, and then set the Pressure Cooker to 12 minutes. When the time is up, use the Quick Pressure Release.
  7. At this point I sautéd off a bit of the liquid – you can decide if you think this is necessary. Discard the bay leaf.
  8. Once slightly cooled, add the cracked pepper and Parmesan cheese. Use an immersion blender or food processor to blend until smooth.
  9. Enjoy on crostini or whatever form you choose!

Chili Lime Pepitas

chili lime pepitas - trustinkim.com

Here’s a tasty and simple way to spice up some pepitas/pumpkin seeds. It’s a nice little appetizer, or a snack with your favourite beverage. Vegan, gluten-free and all that!

It’s super simple:

  1. Squeeze some lime onto a bunch of pepitas in a baking dish.
  2. Sprinkle on some salt and Ancho chili powder, or any chili powder that you have on hand.
  3. Throw them in the oven at about 250F for 10-15 minutes, until they get a bit crispy. If you hear them popping you know it’s time to take them out. Just make sure you move them around in their baking dish once or twice through the process.
  4. Yum! Once they are cooled you can store them in an airtight jar for a few days – if they don’t get gobbled up right away!

Savoury Cheddar Muffins

savoury cheddar muffins - trustinkim.com

A new favourite! These savoury muffins were super delicious fresh out of the oven, served with a nice bowl of soup. They have cheddar, spinach and spring onions in them, and they are nice and light. They also work well as a breakfast or snack muffin.

Of course they were best eaten fresh out of the oven, but I heated one up the next day and that one was really good too! I’ve got a few in the freezer for when I need a last minute addition to a meal. 

I found the recipe on myfussyeater.com, and only changed a few things: I omitted the red peppers, and I added a bit of salt to the tops of the muffins. As well, I never buy self-raising flour, so in my version printed below I have included ingredients to substitute for self-raising flour. The recipe called for medium eggs, and I only had large so I used those – seemed a fine substitution to me. Also, I didn’t have quite enough butter so I topped it up with olive oil. I used more spring onions than the recipe indicated.

What you need:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup (150mL milk)
  • 1/2 cup (150mL) butter, melted
  • 2 cups grated aged cheddar
  • 3 spring onions, chopped
  • 2 cups spinach, chopped
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 vegetable stock cube, crumbled
  • freshly ground pepper
  • salt for the top of the muffins

What you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F (180C).
  2. Line muffin tins with 12 liners, spraying them if they are not parchment.
  3. In a large bowl whisk the eggs, then stir in the milk and the melted butter (let it cool before adding it or it will solidify when you add it). Mix in the grated cheese, spring onion, and spinach.
  4. Sift in the flour and baking powder, then add the salt and pepper and the crumbled stock cube.
  5. Hand mix until just combined; I added a little bit more milk because mine seemed way too dry.
  6. Scoop the batter into the muffin tins and crack a little bit of salt on top of each.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes. If you insert a toothpick or skewer into the middle of a muffin it should come out dry.
  8. Cool completely before freezing, but enjoy them while they are warm!

Bruschetta

bruschetta - trustinkim.comTomatoes, freshly picked from the vine – is there a better taste of summer? Bruschetta is a tasty way to serve up some of these treasures from the garden, or the garden of a friend, or a Farmer’s market. Best made only with fresh summer tomatoes, but in a pinch, cherry tomatoes are often a best bet in winter.

I haven’t given amounts for this recipe because it’s easy to make, and you can alter amounts according to your taste and how much you want to make. Each tomato tastes a bit different, so the seasonings will depend on how much flavour is in our tomatoes.

What you need:

  • baguette
  • 1 clove garlic
  • the freshest tomatoes you can get
  • fresh basil
  • sweet onion
  • balsamic vinegar
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt

What you do:

  1. Slice and lightly toast the bread. You can toast it in the oven, toaster, or on the BBQ. The BBQ is a good option if it’s really hot and you don’t want to turn on your oven.
  2. Slice the garlic in half and rub it on the toasted bread. Set the bread aside.
  3. Mince a little bit of the onion, then chop the tomatoes and toss them into a bowl. Tear up or chop the basil and add it to the tomatoes.
  4. Drizzle a bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar on the tomatoes, along with a pinch of salt – give it a toss. Taste and add more of each of these ingredients as you see fit.
  5. Just before serving, top each slice of bread with tomatoes. Alternatively, you can leave the tomatoes in a bowl and people can top their own.

Sea Asparagus

sea asparagus -trustinkim.com

I was fortunate to spend some time in Haida Gwaii recently, an archipelago off of B.C.’s coast. It is a gorgeous place, with lush forests and stunning coastlines. The Haida people have lived here since time immemorial and we experienced a thriving culture. We were able to see a lot of totem poles and other traditional art, and we experienced the sharing spirit of the place. 

While staying in Masset at the Copper Beech House we were honoured to be invited to a dinner where we had, among other things, this pan-fried sea asparagus. Of course I had to find out more about it, so Chelsea who runs the show at the Inn taught me what to do. She taught me where to harvest it, and how to soak it to get rid of a lot of the salt, and then how to cook it. (see below)

Sea asparagus makes a nice side vegetable dish, or in a small quantity it could be a lovely garnish for salmon. We had it with ling cod and spruce tip syrup, and some herbed baby potatoes.

Sea asparagus goes by many names: sea bean, samphire, glasswort, saltwort, and probably others. Here is a link to an article about sea asparagus if you’re interested in learning more about it. Also this one. will give you more information on where to harvest. You can buy it at some Farmer’s Markets, but you can forage it for free if you live in the right area!

What you need:

  • sea asparagus
  • butter or olive oil

What you do:

  1. After harvesting the sea asparagus, clean it of any bits that don’t belong, brown parts especially.
  2. Rinse the sea asparagus, then soak it in fresh water for about an hour.
  3. Heat some butter or olive oil in a frying pan. Cook the sea asparagus briefly, tossing with tongs. It should still be bright green, so that it doesn’t become soggy. 
  4. Serve immediately.

View from Tow Hill - trustinkim.com
View from Tow Hill, Haida Gwaii

 

Old Massett Totem Pole - trustinkim.com
Totem Pole in Old Massett, Haida Gwaii

eagle close up - trustinkim.com
I was fortunate to have a visit from this eagle. He landed terrifyingly close to me, so I took a few steps back and snapped his pic.

 

Spanish Tapas-style Blistered Shishito Peppers

shishito peppers - trustinkim.com

A number of years ago I was on a trip to Spain, and I was treated to an amazing tapas feast. We ate so many delicious foods that night, but my favourite by far was the Padrón peppers – blackened, slathered with olive oil, and topped with crunchy salt. They were mildly hot; some were a little warmer than others, but the heat wasn’t uncomfortable.

I didn’t think I would enjoy these at all, since I’m not fond of green bell peppers, but these are completely different from bell peppers. Yay for trying new things!

When I got home from the trip to Spain I thought I would make these peppers all the time when I had guests, however, limited access to Padrón peppers in Vancouver crushed my dream. I was able to find them once at a Farmer’s Market. I paid a small fortune for them, and they were so hot that no one would eat them! I did eat them because I can be a bit stubborn, but they were not nearly as good as the ones in Spain.

Enter: the Shishito pepper. I found them in Vancouver at a Persian store, and at my local Korean store they are labelled as Twist peppers. They are incredibly similar to Padrón peppers – yay!

What you need:

  • Shishito or Padrón peppers
  • olive oil
  • flaky sea salt

What you do:

  1. Wash and dry the peppers.
  2. Bring a large frying pan (I like cast-iron for this) to high heat. Add a glug of olive oil, then add the peppers. Allow to fry for about one minute before turning; they should be blistered and darkened on the first side.
  3. Fry on the other side for another minute or so.
  4. Drizzle a bit more olive oil, then use your fingers to sprinkle on some sea salt.
  5. Enjoy them while they’re hot! You can always soak up the excess olive oil with some bread.

Herbed Cheese-Stuffed Mini Sweet Peppers

herbed cheese stuffed mini peppers - trustinkim

These beauties made a tasty little appetizer. Super easy too.

The type of cheese and herbs you use is up to you and your taste preferences, or what you’ve got on hand. I used a combination of Tofutti “Better than Cream Cheese” along with some goat cheese, and mixed in some basil and parsley.

These can be made vegan by using cream cheese and parmesan non-dairy substitutes.

What you need:

  • mini bell peppers
  • cheese of your choice: goat cheese, cream cheese, Tofutti “Better than Cream Cheese,” or a combination of cheeses
  • chopped fresh herbs (your choice: basil, oregano, or dill, or…) Green onions are another option
  • salt and freshly cracked pepper
  • parmesan cheese

What you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
  2. Slice the peppers in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Save one pepper to chop up for a garnish. Roast the peppers in the oven for about 5 minutes.
  3. Combine the herbs, soft cheese, salt and pepper, then spread it into the cavity of the peppers. Top them with a bit of parmesan cheese, then pop them in the oven just long enough to heat them up, about 10-15 minutes.
  4. Garnish with chopped pepper and a few herbs. Enjoy!

Manchego Cheese Appetizer

manchego cheese appetizer - trust in kim

My friend Sarah shared this with me the other day, along with a nice glass of red wine. It’s really simple, just some beautiful cheese with a bit of honey and some hand-ground coffee beans . . .  but it is a gorgeous combination of flavours.

Manchego is a Spanish cheese made with sheep’s milk. It is not a pungent cheese, but it’s got a great flavour. The sweetness of the honey and the bitterness of the coffee beans somehow pair perfectly with this cheese.

Sarah found the recipe in a Jamie Oliver cookbook.

What you need:

  • a wedge of Manchego cheese
  • honey – whatever you have in your house, or something fancy
  • coffee beans (don’t use pre-ground beans)
  • baguette (optional)

What you do:

  1. Remove the cheese from the fridge at least an hour before serving
  2. Use a mortar and pestle or a coffee grinder to grind the coffee beans finely, then make a little pile of them on a decorative cutting board or plate.
  3. Pour some honey into a small bowl, and place it on the board along with the cheese and coffee grounds.
  4. To serve, cut a slice of cheese, then dip it in the honey, and use your fingers to sprinkle on a little coffee. So delicious!

Antipasto Salad with Bocconcini, Salami, and Olive Tapenade

antipasto salad with bocconcini and olive tapenade - trustinkim

Here’s a salad for the meat lovers out there, and it makes a good meal salad on a warm day, or a starter if you make a smaller portion. If you have vegetarians or non-pork eaters at your table, the salad is also delicious without the salami. You could always add a boiled egg as an alternative.

It’s an easy recipe, and just requires a bit of chopping. The dressing can be made a day ahead to speed things up.

I visited an Italian specialty store to find the ingredients, but you should be able to find similar items at your local grocery store.

I found this Nancy Silverton recipe on the Food & Wine site, and served it with a lovely homemade no-knead focaccia and a crisp white wine. I halved the recipe, and my version feeds four people. The only change I made to the recipe was to add the salami to the top instead of mixing it in with the dressing. That way it can be left off for people who don’t want any, or want less meat; I think it looks nicer with the salami on top for presenting family-style on the table.

What you need:

  • 1 & 1/2 tablespoons green-olive tapenade
  •  2 tablespoons peperoncini—stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cups bocconcini
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt to taste
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 small head of iceberg lettuce, halved, cored and finely shredded (about 2 cups)
  • 85 grams (3 oz) thinly sliced Genoa salami, cut into thin strips (about 3/4 cup)
  • 6 small basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup of your favourite green olives

What you do:

  1. Combine the tapenade, peperocini and half of the olive oil in a bowl, then toss the bocconcini in it. This can be refrigerated and used later or the next day.
  2. In another bowl combine the lemon juice, vinegar, garlic and oregano. Whisk in the remaining half of the olive oil, then season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Place the shredded lettuce in a large bowl, then add the marinated bocconcini and half of the salad dressing. Toss well, then plate the salad on a large platter.
  4. Add the salami strips to the top of the salad and top it with the basil and olives. Drizzle on a little bit more dressing, and serve immediately.
  5. Enjoy!