Monthly Archives: April 2012

‘Musseling’ My Way Through the East Coast

I’m currently training for my second figure show, it’s not until next year, but I need as much time as possible to get myself physically and mentally prepared to do it all over again. The biggest challenge for me has always been diet; I love food way too much. My foodie nature is once again proving to be an obstacle in my progress, I have been eating clean for all the days other than my cheat meal days, but sometimes, if there is something left over in the fridge, I may end up munching on it, and then realizing what I’m doing, spitting it out, and then feeling guilty for having wasted something so delicious. I must sound completely insane, but I’m pretty sure if you ask any fitness competitor out there, they will have a similar story, or stories to share.

I remember a couple of years ago when I was training for my first ever figure show; I was still living at home and my mom would always buy junk food, because the rest of the family wasn’t eating the way I was eating, it wasn’t fair to not have their favourite food s in the house. My mom brought home a bag of Oreos one day, and after resisting for much of the day I finally broke and shoved around 4 in my mouth at a time…swallowed, and proceeded to eat more…realizing what I was doing, I threw the rest of the box of cookies in the garbage, and had to cover them in soap so that I wouldn’t eat them out of the trash. Sigh. I did step on stage however, looking better than I ever did before, I lost more than 30lbs and gained a great deal of muscle, a new outlook on life, and a whole new attitude towards food, and what I was putting in my body. Ever since then I have been mindful of what the food I put into my body contains, and am much more knowledgeable of what happens to my body with the food I feed it with. That being said, once in a while I do like to indulge; being on the east coast and not taking advantage of the amazing seafood that is available is, in my mind, a terrible sin. So, today we did just that, indulged, in some east coast bounty.

Mussels in a Thai Red Curry Sauce

Mussels in a Thai Red Curry Sauce with Herbed Irish Soda Bread.

2 pounds of live mussels, about 6 dozen, cleaned and debearded
2Tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic
2 small or one large onion
3-4Tbsp Thai red curry paste (or more, depending on your taste)
2 cans of coconut milk
1 cup Chicken stock (I only had Beef stock on hand, and it worked out fine)
juice of 1 lime
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro (I used ½ cup because we LOVE cilantro, but feel free to use less or omit altogether)
1 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)

Directions

In a large pot heat the butter until melted (I used my dutch oven and it worked out perfectly) and sauté the onions and garlic until the onions are translucent, about 7 minutes. Add the curry paste and half of the stock and stir until the paste dissolves. Let simmer for 3 minutes.
Add the remaining stock, coconut milk, cilantro, sugar, soy sauce, fish sauce, lime juice and ground coriander, cover and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Take a moment to taste the sauce at this point and adjust accordingly.

Have your mussels ready to go, turn the heat up to medium-high and add the mussels, stir them into the sauce and then cover the pot and let them steam for about 5 minutes or so. Check the mussels to see if they’re opening up, give them a stir or two; once the mussels start to open up, let simmer for another couple of minutes and then remove the ones that have opened up, don’t let them overcook or they will be rubbery. The ones that do not open up should be discarded. Once you’ve removed all of the mussels from the sauce, serve them up in bowls and pour a generous helping of sauce over each portion, garnish with cilantro and serve up with Irish Soda Bread (Recipe below) or with any crusty bread of your choice.

This recipe makes 2 very large servings, or 6 small appetizer sized ones.

Irish Soda Bread

-Makes one loaf-

*this is the base recipe, I added garlic, thyme, smoked gouda and a mix of savoury herbs I got from the market. You can add absolutely anything you’d like to jazz this up, or keep it plain!

1 tsp oil
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 ¾ cups buttermilk

Directions

Preheat oven to 425F/220C. Brush a baking sheet with oil (I used Olive Oil) and set aside

Sift the flour, salt, and baking soda into a mixing bowl, mix together with a fork, add any herbs or flavourings at this point. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in most of the buttermilk. Mix very well with a wooden spoon at first, and then with your hands until it comes together in a ball (the dough should be very soft, but not too wet) if necessary, add the remaining buttermilk.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly and briefly. Shape the dough so that it measures around 8”/20cm. Place the loaf onto the prepared baking sheet and cut a cross into the top with a sharp knife. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Transfer to a wire rack to let cool slightly, serve warm.

Irish Soda Bread Pre-Bake

Irish Soda Bread Post-Bake


Baby It’s Cold Outside

There is a thick, dense fog outside, it’s been raining for a couple of days, and it’s still cold out here in Nova Scotia; at least it has stopped snowing. I do love this province, it is absolutely gorgeous; the only thing that really makes me miss home though, is the lack of authentic, flavourful and good ethnic food. The Chinese food scene is dismal, but I think we’ve finally found a place that gets close to the flavours that we’re used to; Indian food we make ourselves at home, Thai food; good luck, same goes for Vietnamese dishes.

My husband should thank his lucky stars that he’s married to a foodie; I would if I were him. I know most people like to curl up with a nice hot bowl of chili, or soup, or something equally as amazing on a cold, rainy evening, but not me; give me a bowl of ice cream, chilled soup, or my absolute favourite Vietnamese salad wraps. Mmmm, I’m drooling now. They are so easy to make, and you can get as creative as you’d like with them. I usually do plain salad wraps when I’m training, where I just take a bunch of different greens and wrap them in the rice paper and pack enough for each meal on the go, they’re portable, and yummy. If I want to make them into a simple and light meal however, I’ll pack them full of veggies (whatever I have on hand), chicken, and vermicelli noodles, and serve them up with a spicy peanut sauce; they also go over great at potlucks! I don’t really have a definite recipe for this, I just gather all of the ingredients that I need and make them until I run out of something vital, like the noodles.

Vietnamese Salad Wraps

Protein of your choice. Traditionally you get these at restaurants made with prawns, we always have chicken at home, so I just use that.

Chicken breast, cooked, sliced and quickly sautéed with soy sauce, hoison sauce, chili pepper flakes, fish sauce and some pepper.

2-3 bundles of vermicelli noodles (you can do more or less depending on how many people you’re feeding, when I use

3 bundles we can get about 12 decent sized wraps)

Rice paper wraps

Carrots, julienned ( I had some amazing purple carrots from the farmers market that looked beautiful in these, and were so sweet!)

Spinach, chopped

Cucumbers, julienned

Zucchini, julienned

I also had some broccoli that was in danger of going bad soon, so I chopped that up, sautéed it and used it as well

Warm water in a pan large enough to hold a sheet of rice paper

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Cook the vermicelli noodles according to the directions on the package, drain, rinse with cold water, and then let sit in a small amount of cold water so that they don’t stick together when you’re working.

Place one sheet of rice paper in the pan with warm water and let soak until it becomes soft and pliable (about a minute or so)

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Pull the sheet out gently, grasping by either end of the top and lay on a clean, dry plate.

Start layering your ingredients into the middle of the sheet, like you would with a burrito.

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Fold up the bottom half of the sheet, and then the top. Then roll the rest into a tight package. I found this site as well that you may find useful.

Voila! You have a delicious salad wrap ready to go. Continue the steps until you’ve made as many as you need, or have run out the ingredients at hand.

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Peanut Sauce

1 cup natural low sodium peanut butter *you can use regular pb as well, I just like using the natural stuff*

1 tsp sesame oil (optional. I used to use this all the time, but I haven’t found it in Superstore or Sobey’s out here in NS, and I haven’t made it to the Asian supermarket yet, so I’ve just been omitting it altogether, and it tastes fine!)

1 Tbsp Hoison sauce

2-3 Cloves of garlic, depending on your taste, finely diced

1 ½ Tbsp low sodium soy sauce

Chili pepper flakes (as many as you’d like!)

Approx ½ cup of warm water.

Directions
mix all ingredients, except water, together in a bowl, mix until incorporated. Slowly start adding the warm water until you get the consistency that you like. We like it a bit on the medium thick side, so I usually end up using ½ cup of water plus a bit more, it’s really up to you. Mix well, and adjust to taste. Serve with your salad wraps

Also, before you see the next photo, I want to let you know that it’s absolutely impossible to make peanut sauce not look like…well, what it looks like.

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