Creole Shrimp and Creamy Lentil Grits Sandwich

I have what seems to be a logical line of reasoning for some of the culinary experiments that I do. For example, today’s sandwich has “lentil grits.” What the hell??

Regular grits are made of coarsely milled corn. A whole grain that is often thought of as a vegetable, legume or something all its own. You can mill any whole grain or legume in a similar way and they’ll all cook up like corn grits with their own unique flavour.

While experimenting with cooking lentil grits yesterday, I cooked it with dark chicken stock (chicken stock made from roasted chicken bones). The result was a deep, rich and flavourful dish. It also stays slightly soft even as it cools. That’s somewhat by design by cooking it with a lot of stock. I wanted a softer texture to keep it spreadable so it could be used as a “condiment.”

As for the sandwich, if I’m going to go on a bit of a limb stretching the notion of grits, I should at least do a classic pairing of Shrimp N Grits. So that’s what I did! Enjoy!!

Creole Shrimp and Creamy Lentil Grits Sandwich

For the Creamy Lentil Grits:

1/3 cup whole red lentils

2 cups chicken stock

2 Tbsp butter

   In a blender or food processor, add the dry lentils and pulse a few times to get a coarse meal texture.

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Add the chicken stock to a medium pot over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and slowly whisk in the prepared Lentil Grits.

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Whisk the mixture occasionally for about 10-12 minutes. As the mixture thickens, whisk more constantly for another 12-15 minutes until very thick. Add the butter and whisk for a further 2-3 minutes. Take off the heat, transfer to a bowl to cool.

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For the Creole Shrimp:

Creole Spice Mix:

   1/2 tsp cumin seeds

   1/2 tsp celery seeds

   1 tsp sweet paprika

   1 tsp garlic powder

   1 tsp dried oregano

100g/4 oz shrimp, cut into 2cm/1″ pieces

1 + 2 tsp oil

1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped

1/2 sweet bell pepper, stems and seeds removed, finely chopped

1 jalapeño, stem and seeds removed, finely chopped

3 tbsp fresh lovage leaves (or 2 stalks celery), finely chopped

1/2 cup chicken stock

1/2 cup cream

Green parts from 2 green onions, finely chopped

   In a blender, add the cumin seed, celery seed, paprika, garlic powder and dried oregano. Grind until a powder is achieved.

   In a small bowl, combine the Creole Spice Mix and shrimp. Toss to coat the shrimp liberally with the spices.

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In a large pan over medium high heat, add 1 tsp oil. When the oil is hot and smouldering, but not smoking, add the spice-coated shrimp. Quickly sauté for 45-60 seconds per side. Take the shrimp out of the pan and set aside in a bowl.

   To the same pan, add the other 2 tsp of oil. When the oil is hot and smouldering, add the onion, peppers, jalapeño and lovage. Stir and sauté for 3-4 minutes to soften but not brown.

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   Add the chicken stock and cream and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer while stirring with a wooden spoon for 15-20 minutes or until thickened. Add the shrimp back into the sauce, stir to combine and allow to simmer for another minute or so. Set aside and keep warm.

For the sandwich:

Prepared Creamy Lentil Grits

Prepared Creole Shrimp

2 ciabatta bread (10cm/4″ x 5cm/2″ in size), sliced open

   Spread the Creamy Lentil Grits liberally on the cut side of the top and bottom of the bread. Divide the Creole Shrimp over the bottom of the bread. Top with the top of the bread and serve. Serves 2-3.

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Grilled Turmeric Pork Saté Sandwich with Peach Sweet and Sour Sauce

I remember the first time that I met my sister-in-law. The conversation immediately went to food. She had heard from my brother that I liked to cook. A lot. She gave me a cookbook on Indonesian cooking from her home country. I’ve read the cookbook hundreds of times taking in everything from wildly foreign techniques (deep fried hard boiled eggs?!? Awesome) to the little cultural elements that helped me understand a new family member.

Her first visit in the summer involved asking me if I had a BBQ grill. I was in a little apartment but I had a little rogue charcoal grill on my balcony at the time. She said we were going to make saté, or Indonesian meat skewers. She said to get a tougher cut of beef steak and a bunch of chicken thighs. I was tasked to cut all of it into thin strips and she showed me how to weave these strips on to skewers. Start at the one end of the long thin strip of meat, fold over about 1cm (1/2″) of the strip over it, skewering it through and repeat until the strip is woven on the skewer. Usually you only do about 4 or 5 strips per skewer leaving half of the skewer to hang over the edge of the grill so it doesn’t scorch and burn. Smart.

Since then, I’ve probably done these skewers hundreds of times over the last decade plus. My brother and I get into saté contests so we have to make a minimum of 50 just for the two of us. I’m not exaggerating. We usually eat upwards of 20+ each. We both lay around like beached whales afterwards, but there’s nothing like chargrilled meat on a stick.

If you wanted to do something similar for your vegetarian friends, you need something that’s flexible when sliced thinly, like zucchini or Japanese eggplant.

Today, I was reminded of all of those times weaving meat and was inspired for this sandwich. Instead of an Indonesian-style peanut sauce, I decided on a super summery Peach Sweet and Sour Sauce. Another sauce of which my sister-in-law gave me the framework: sugar, vinegar, thickened with corn starch and initially she told me about ketchup (I know, wtf??). This version is with freshest of the fresh summer peaches! Enjoy!

Grilled Turmeric Pork Saté Sandwich with Peach Sweet and Sour Sauce

For the Grilled Turmeric Pork:

300g/12 oz pork loin chops, thinly sliced (about 1cm (1/2″) thick)

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp turmeric

   Place the strips of pork on a plate, sprinkle with salt and turmeric and massage it over the meat to combine.

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Thread 4 or 5 strips of meat on a skewer, bending and skewering at 1cm (1/2″) intervals on the meat. Press together at the top end of the skewer. Repeat with remaining meat. There should be about 10 skewers. Set aside.

   Preheat a grill to medium (if it’s an outdoor gas grill). Push coals to one side of the grill if it’s a charcoal grill. Preheat a grill to high if it’s an indoor grill (those tend to run cooler than outdoor grills). Grill the prepared skewers for 2-3 minutes per side. Remove from heat and set aside.

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For the Peach Sweet and Sour Sauce:

2 medium peaches, peeled, pitted, roughly chopped, then puréed (should be about 200mL (3/4 cup) of volume)

1/4 cup raw cane sugar

1/4 cup rice vinegar

2 tsp corn starch + 4 tsp water, stirred together in a small bowl

   Place the peach purée, sugar and vinegar in a small pot. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to medium low and stir in the corn starch mixture. Whisk quickly to return the mixture to a simmer and allow it to thicken to a glossy finish. Makes about 1 cup of sauce. Set aside.

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For the sandwich:

Prepared Grilled Turmeric Pork Saté

Prepared Peach Sweet and Sour Sauce

150g/6oz baby bok choy, ends trimmed, blanched for 60 seconds

4 fresh radishes, thinly sliced

2 ciabatta bread (about 10cm/4″ x 5cm/2″ in size), cut in half

   Spread the cut sides of the ciabatta liberally with Peach Sweet and Sour Sauce. Lay half of the blanched baby bok choy on each of the bottoms of the ciabatta bread. Top each bok choy with half of the Grilled Turmeric Pork Saté (removed from the skewers or the sandwich will be a little hard to eat ;P ). Layer a few slices of radish over the meat and top with the top of the ciabatta. Serves 2-3.

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Feta Beets and Cheesy Pea Egg Sandwich

As I go through the week, my fridge becomes an exploratory expedition. I like to keep things organized, but there are some days that one thing or another gets shifted to accommodate leftovers or something. On one of my exploratory missions I found some baby beets that I haven’t played with yet. After consoling the little guys and apologizing for my negligence, I decided to add them to breakfast.

Beets are a natural pair with feta cheese and with a little crumble with some boiled, cubed beets, they are great on basically anything. Along the fresh snap of summer peas and eggs, it’s all a textural and flavourful union of joy on any morning! Enjoy!

Feta Beets and Cheesy Pea Egg Sandwich

For the Feta Beets:

4 baby beets (or one medium beet), peeled and cubed into 1 cm (1/2″) dice

75g/3 oz feta cheese

   In a small pot over medium high heat, bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add the cubed beets, cover with a lid, reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 15-20 minutes until tender. Drain away the water and add the cooked beets to a medium bowl. Stir in the crumbled feta cheese and set aside.

For the Cheesy Pea Eggs:

2 tsp oil + 2 tsp butter

4 large eggs, beaten

1/4 cup shelled fresh peas

50g/2 oz gruyere cheese, finely cubed or shredded

   In a large nonstick pan over medium heat, add the oil and butter. When the butter has melted and gone bubbly, add the beaten eggs. Shake the pan while stirring the eggs with a rubber spatula. When the eggs are about halfway done, add the peas and cheese, stir and fold the eggs and when the eggs are three-quarters of the way done, turn off the heat.

   To assemble the sandwich, toast four slices of whole wheat sandwich bread and spread them with your favourite mayo/aioli (I used some of my Roasted Red Chilli Mint Aioli but any mayo is fine). Divide the Cheesy Pea Eggs over two of the slices of toasted sandwich bread. Divide the Feta Beets over the eggs and top with the remaining toasted sandwich bread. Serves 2.

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Pork Schnitzel and Horseradish Cheddar Rye Waffle Sandwich

This whole #summerofsandwiches thing isn’t really pre-planned much. Outside of research on various kinds of sandwiches, the details are either figured out the day I cook and blog it or within a few days.

I knew this week that I wanted to do a waffle sandwich idea. I didn’t wanna do anything “breakfasty” like bacon and eggs or the soul food favourite chicken and waffles. I saw that I had a beautiful pork loin in my freezer and knew then what the combination would be: a schnitzel and rye waffle. The details started to come together this morning when I saw that I had a bit of horseradish cheddar in my fridge. And literally at the last minute of preparing today’s meal, I thought, “How about some wilted greens as a base?”

I was rendering the trimmed pork fat from the pork chops and decided to use that instead of bacon in the greens and the whole idea came together largely in the last 8 hours or so.

When one of the farmers at the farmer’s market asks me, “What am I going to do with (name ingredient)?” I end up saying, “Not sure, I figure things out at the time I’m cooking or just before.”

I like to think of it as a punk rock approach to the kitchen. No rules. Fly by the seat of my pants. Oftentimes chaotic. But it’s all a crazy adventure in the end. Enjoy!!

Pork Schnitzel and Horseradish Cheddar Rye Waffle Sandwich

For the Horseradish Cheddar Rye Waffles:

1/2 cup rye flour

2/3 cup spelt flour

1 Tbsp raw cane sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp caraway seeds

75g/3 oz horseradish cheddar (or the same volume of aged white cheddar with 2 tsp grated fresh horseradish)

1 cup buttermilk

3 tsp oil

1 large egg

   In a large bowl, combine the rye flour, spelt flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, caraway seeds and cheddar. Add the buttermilk, oil and egg. Beat the egg in the middle of everything and gradually work all of the ingredients together.

   Preheat waffle maker. Lightly grease it with vegetable oil spray or a bit of butter. Today I used my waffle stick maker. Ladle 3 Tbsp portions into the waffle sticks and cook for 3 minutes. A square waffle maker would require about 3/4 cup portions in each square. My waffle stick maker made 14-16 waffle sticks (I always mess up the first load and add too much batter and have “waffle runoff”).

Mmmmm Waffle Runoff….

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A square waffle maker makes 8 waffles. Set aside and keep warm.

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For the Pork Schnitzel:

2-150g/6 oz pork loin chops, fat trimmed (reserve fat trimmings for later)

1/2 cup spelt flour (or regular all purpose flour)

1 large egg + 4 Tbsp water

1 cup dried breadcrumbs

1 Tbsp garlic powder

1 tsp sweet Hungarian paprika

Oil for shallow frying

   Lay a pork chop on a large sheet of parchment paper.

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Fold over the parchment over the pork chop and pound it with a mallet or rolling pin until it’s 1/2 cm (1/4″) thick and a little more than double the overall size.

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Cut the pounded chop into thirds.

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Repeat with the other pork chop.

   In one small bowl, add the flour. In another bowl, add the egg and water beaten together until smooth. In a third bowl, add the breadcrumbs, garlic powder and paprika and blend together. Dredge the pounded pork chop pieces one at a time in the flour (using one hand), then into the egg mixture (with the other hand), and then into the breadcrumb mixture with the dry hand you used to dredge into the flour (This prevents club fingers!!). Press the breading into the chop firmly to ensure an even coating. Lay on a large plate to allow the breading to firm up by leaving it for at least 30 minutes.(At this point you can start rendering the pork fat on the back burner, if you’re doing it). 

   To fry, add enough oil in a large pan to cover the bottom with a depth of about 1/2 cm (1/4″). Heat over medium heat until the oil smoulders. Add a fresh piece of parsley to determine if it’s ready to fry. If the leaf sizzles pretty much immediately, it’s ready. Lay the breaded chops two at a time in the pan and fry for about 90 seconds per side. Remove from the pan and drain away the excess oil on paper towels. Repeat with remaining breaded pork chops. Set aside and keep warm.

For the Pork Cracklin Greens:

1-1/2 cups pork fat trimmed from pork chops (I trimmed a 1 kg/2lb loin of fat and got about that much) (you could just use 4 or 5 slices of bacon if you’d rather not render down the pork fat), chopped finely

2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

4 cups beet greens (or radish greens, kale or spinach), cut into rough strips

2 tsp prepared mustard (I used a homemade grainy mustard)

   In a large pan over medium low heat, add the pork fat. Occasionally stir the pork as the fat renders and the cracklins brown. It’ll take upwards of 45-60 minutes. Drain away all but 2 tsp of the fat. (If you’re using bacon, fry it until golden brown, drain away all but 2 tsp of fat and continue).

   Add the garlic and increase the heat to medium. As the garlic softens, becomes aromatic but not browning, add the beet greens and mustard. Stir together to combine. Add a few tablespoons of water, turn the heat back down to medium low, cover with a lid and simmer for 5-7 minutes until the greens have wilted. Set aside.

   To assemble, lay about 1/2 cup of the prepared Pork Cracklin Greens on a plate. Place a Horseradish Cheddar Rye Waffle in the centre of the greens. Add one Pork Schnitzel strip if you made waffle sticks. Add two if you made a square waffle. Top with another waffle. Repeat with remaining waffles, schnitzel and greens. Serves 4.

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Sweet Temptation Shrimp Po Boy with Lovage Jalapeño Shrimp and Roasted Red Chilli Mint Aioli

I’ve been thinking of doing a shrimp po boy for awhile. I love the idea of a super-charged flavourful shrimp in a baguette with an even more flavourful aioli dressing.

The past few days, I’ve been really cutesy/pretty with my sandwiches and wanted to take that sense of security and add a bit of pop! What my mum used to call “surprise bites.”

A surprise bite is giving you one appearance and having elements that make you jerk your head with flavour, or in the case of today’s sandwich, wild heat!!

Food is about being playful. And sometimes, you just gotta play along the lip of a volcano!! 😉

Sweet Temptation Shrimp Po Boy with Lovage Jalapeño Shrimp and Roasted Red Chilli Mint Aioli

For the Lovage Jalapeño Shrimp:

225g/8 oz medium sized shrimp (21-30 count), peeled and deveined (if it isn’t already done for you)

2 Tbsp fresh lovage leaves (or one stalk of celery), finely chopped

1 jalapeño, stem and seeds removed, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup plain yogurt

   Place the lovage, jalapeño and yogurt in a blender or food processor. Purée until smooth. Place the purée in a resealable zip bag along with the shrimp. Massage the marinade over the shrimp, squeeze the air out of the bag and seal. Refrigerate for an hour.

   While the shrimp is marinating, proceed to the rest of the recipe.

For the Roasted Red Chilli Mint Aioli:

2 or 3 fresh red finger chillis

1 clove garlic

1/4 tsp prepared mustard (I used a homemade grainy mustard)

1 egg yolk

1 Tbsp rice vinegar

2 Tbsp, packed, fresh mint, finely chopped

2 Tbsp cold pressed/extra virgin oil

   Preheat oven to 200C/400F.

   Place the chillis on a small baking sheet. Roast on the lower rack of the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes or until the skin is darkened and the loosened from the chillis. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Peel the skin and remove the stem and seeds. Roughly chop the roasted chilli flesh.

   Place the roasted chillis, garlic, egg yolk, mustard, mint and vinegar in a blender or food processor. Purée until smooth. Add the oil and purée again until smooth. You don’t have to do the “slow drizzle” thing. The emulsion holds just fine with the chilli purée and mustard. Set aside.

For the sandwich:

2 tsp oil + 2 tsp butter

Marinated Lovage Jalapeño Shrimp

Prepared Roasted Red Chilli Mint Aioli

2 demi-baguettes

1 cup, loosely packed, nasturtium leaves (or spinach)

6 nasturtium flowers

1/2 cup, loosely packed, broccoli rabe flowers (or arugula)

   In a large pan over medium high heat, add the oil and butter. When the butter has melted and is bubbling, take the shrimp out of the marinade and place in the pan. Don’t be too concerned about wiping away some of the excess marinade. Cook for about 30-45 seconds per side. Take out of the pan and set aside.

   On each split demi-baguette, spread a good dollop of Roasted Red Chilli Mint Aioli on each cut side. Divide the nasturtium leaves over both baguettes. Accent the leaves with nasturtium flowers and a scattering of broccoli rabe flowers. Top with Lovage Jalapeño Shrimp. Serves 2. (with a bit of aioli leftover. Put it on a grilled cheese sandwich or your eggs the next morning. That’s what I’m planning 😉 ).

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Peaches and Cream Sando

Summer isn’t really complete without having big dollops of whipped cream on ultra fresh peaches. There’s a reason that it’s a classic combination. It’s perfect. The creaminess enriches your palate while the sharp tart-sweetness of the fresh peaches cut right through.

As for today’s sandwich, what’s a “sando?”

A sando is the Japanese concept of a basic sandwich on white bread with the crusts cut off. Think of it like a tea sandwich. The differences come in how it’s filled. While researching different sandwiches around the world (and when you’re doing 90+ sandwiches, it’s bordering on obsessive research), I came upon the Japanese sando.

The most famous is katsu sando, which is essentially a breaded pork cutlet between two slices of sandwich bread with a thick, sweet soy-based sauce. That may be coming down the line in my #summerofsandwiches adventure, but the other sando I saw that struck me was a fruit sando. It’s essentially sweet whipped cream and mixed berries between two slices of sandwich bread.

When anything Japanese comes up, I end up asking my brother about it. He lived in Japan for almost two years and knows a lot more about Japan than I do. I asked him about the fruit sando and he said, “Yeah, that’s the fruit and cream sandwich with the crusts cut off and shaped like Hello Kitty.”

While I don’t have a Hello Kitty cookie cutter (I know, a grown man without Hello Kitty merchandise, shocking!! 😉 ), I wanted to add a bit of “kawaii” to my sando. A simple flower shape with vibrant colourful fruit around it would have to be cute enough! (Sorry Hello Kitty fans). Enjoy!!

Peaches and Cream Sando

For the Whipped Cream:

1/2 cup whipping/heavy cream (35% milk fat)

2 Tbsp icing/powdered sugar

1/4 tsp vanilla

   With a whisk or an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, whip the cream in a medium bowl until very stiff peaks form. Add the icing sugar and whip to combine. Add the vanilla and whip briefly again to incorporate. Set aside.

For the Peaches and Cream Sando:

Prepared Whipped Cream

4 slices whole wheat sandwich bread (traditionally they use white bread, but I just can stomach white bread anymore. Feel free to use white sandwich bread if you like)

1 fresh peach, pit and skin removed, chopped into 1cm (1/2″ chunks)

Berries to garnish

   Cut out the sandwich bread with a large cookie cutter just smaller than the crust of the bread. Or just square off the bread by cutting the crusts straight off.

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Place two of the cut out slices on the centre of two plates. Dollop half of the whipped cream on each slice. Divide 1/3 of the chopped peaches on the whipped cream of each slice. Decorate around each sandwich with the remaining peaches and berries of choice. Top the sandwich with the other cut out slices of sandwich bread. Serves 2.

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Summer Green Stir Fry Omelette Wrap

Sundays are lazy days for a reason. For me personally, it seems to be a day where I’m more reflective than normal. And for someone who’s pretty much perpetually in his own head, that can get exhausting so that leads to me doing very little else.

Sundays are also meant for eggs. My youngest memories always involved the brunch my dad made. He worked incredibly hard, laborious work all week as a drywaller and, I think, that little bit of cooking he could do helped him unwind. He always seemed more relaxed on Sundays.

I still do eggs basically every Sunday because it reminds me of those comforting times. Tradition and nostalgia have always been motivators for me. So today’s sandwich harkens back to a time of peace and joy on days that don’t always feel that way.

Summer Green Stir Fry Omelette Wrap

For the Summer Green Stir Fry:

4 tsp oil

1 medium zucchini, cut into 2cm/1″ x 5cm/2″ sticks

1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped

6-8 edible pod snap peas (sugar snap peas), ends trimmed

1 jalapeño pepper, stem and seeds removed, cut into julienne strips (or a sweet banana pepper if you don’t want it spicy)

50g/2 oz baby bok choy, ends trimmed

   In a large nonstick pan or wok, add 3 tsp oil over medium high heat. Add the zucchini sticks and roast for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes per side until deeply golden brown on all sides. Remove from the pan and drain the excess oil on paper towels.

   Add the other teaspoon of oil back to the wok or pan. When hot, add the garlic, pea pods and baby bok choy. Quickly stir fry while shaking the pan for 30 seconds. Add 2-3 Tbsp of water, and stir fry for a further 2-3 minutes or so to lightly wilt the bok choy and reduce the liquid. Toss the roasted zucchini strips in with the rest of the stir fry. Remove from the pan and place in a bowl to keep warm.

For the Omelette:

3 tsp oil + 3 tsp butter

3 large eggs, beaten in separate bowls

Reserved Summer Green Stir Fry

   In a small nonstick pan over medium/medium-low heat, add 1 tsp oil and 1 tsp butter. When the butter has melted and starts to bubble, add one beaten egg. Swirl the pan and shake it to ensure the omelette spreads to the edges of the pan. Continue to shake until the egg has set 3/4 of the way. Add 1/3 of the Summer Green Stir Fry, fold the sides over the stir fry in the middle and take off the heat. Transfer the omelette to a plate and keep warm while you repeat with the other two eggs and remaining stir fry.

To assemble:

3 flatbreads or whole wheat tortillas

Prepared Summer Green Stir Fry Omelette

   Lay the prepared Summer Green Stir Fry Omelette on each flatbread. Wrap the edges of the flatbread around the omelette and wrap a strip of parchment paper around it to keep it closed. Serves 3.

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Bouquet of Salad Wrap

It was a day of extremes. A super happy morning at a couple of farmer’s markets and awesome cappuccino and treats. 

   I got home, put away all of my summer bounty of fresh goodness and opened my emails. My credit card told me my account was compromised. I was a growling ultra-masculine angry mess for a couple of hours. 

   I stopped. Breathed. And breathed. Slower. Slowed down the vitriol in my mind and let it go to the one thing that 100% makes me happy: The beautiful food I had picked up earlier. 

   It was a flowery day it seems. Two different vegetable growers had edible flowers. One had nasturtium flowers and young leaves. The other, had broccoli rabe flowers. 

  
   I had never seen or heard of broccoli rabe flowers before. Broccoli rabe itself? Sure. But not the flowers. 

   They’re tingly spicy like arugula, but the slightest background sweetness of broccoli. It’s like the broccoli part said, “Whoa big guy!! That spicy bitter thing you got going on needs to mellow out. Here’s a little sweetness!!” 

   So they hugged it out with some birds and bees and made flower babies…or something like that. I’m not a botanist!! 

   Anyways, a super fresh salad wrap was the result of today’s madness. Enjoy!! 

Bouquet of Salad Wrap 

3 whole wheat flatbreads or tortillas

1/4 of a long English Cucumber, cut into 2cm/1″ x 5cm/2″ sticks

1 small carrot, sliced thinly on an angle

1 baby beet, peeled and cut into a fine julienne 

3 red orach leaves (or large butter lettuce leaves)

3 radishes, thinly sliced 

50g/2 oz broccoli rabe flowers (or arugula with a few dandelion flowers)

50 g/2 oz nasturtium leaves (or parsley leaves)

3 nasturtium flowers

1/4 cup Saskatoon berries (a Prairie Canadian berry somewhat like a huckleberry. Use a blueberry or your favourite berry if you like)

   On each flatbread, lay a red orach leaf. On the lower half of the leaf, lay a few cucumber sticks and carrot slices. 

   On the central part of the red orach leaf, fan out the radish slices. 

   On the upper part of the red orach leaf, scatter some young nasturtium leaves, broccoli rabe flowers and a nasturtium flower. 

   In the middle of everything, put a small pile of julienne beets and top with a scattering of Saskatoon berries. Serves 3. 

  

Neeps and Tatties Sandwich with Bacon and Tomato on Bap

This past weekend at the farmer’s market, the first of the turnips and new potatoes were available. One of the vegetable growers that I like to go to actually had some fun varieties that were red and white. Very Canadian, eh?

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Anyways, it got me thinking of the Scottish dish neeps and tatties. While the term isn’t used as much in the general urban vernacular of Scotland, it’s still somewhat used in rural circles. What a “neep” is to a Scot can vary from person to person. One can say it’s a large Swede. Another can say it’s a turnip, another may use the term to refer to a pile of both of them as they dig them up from the earth. The word, rutabaga is actually an Americanized version of the Swedish term for “red bag” so it’s not even used in Scotland. It’s rather contentious. I’m a silly Canadian inspired by a funny name (funny to my ears, please don’t beat me!!), so I’m using the first of these lovely roots and making my own in a sandwich. That’s right, it’s carbolicious!!

I gave a nod to the tradition of the Scottish bread, Bap, and added bacon and tomato because it’s a common sandwich filling for the soft Scottish bread.

Neeps and Tatties Sandwich with Bacon and Tomato on Bap

For the Lovage Neeps and Tatties:

3-5 small new potatoes (about 3/4 cup in volume), coarsely chopped

1 small turnip, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 tsp salt

1 Tbsp, packed, fresh lovage, finely chopped, or finely chopped celery

   In a small pot, add the turnip and potatoes. Cover with water with enough to exceed the volume of the root vegetables my 2-3cm (about 1-1/4″). Add the salt and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Cover with a lid, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the lovage, cover again and cook for a further 7-10 minutes, or until cooked through and softened.

   Drain the water away and roughly mash the lovage, turnips and potatoes with a fork. Set aside.

To assemble the sandwich:

Prepared Lovage Neeps and Tatties

4 slices bacon, fried until crisp

1 Roma tomato, thinly sliced (I used a golden Roma tomato variety, but any tomato is great)

1 15cm/6″ diameter Bap bread (or the equivelent sized focaccia bread)

   Cut the top from the bread, being gentle because it is not a high-leavened bread. Spread the Lovage Neeps and Tatties over the bottom. Layer the tomatoes and bacon over it and top it with the top of the bread. Cut in half. Serves 2.

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Bap (Scottish Soft Buns/Bread)

During my #summerofsandwiches adventure, I thought I should work on my bread baking skills because, to be honest, it’s my worst skill in the kitchen. It’s embarassing. I can bake killer biscuits or make great flatbreads, but a good, lofty loaf has always been my nemesis.

I’ve started with simpler breads like Irish soda bread or, more recently, the Swedish spelt bread, Dinkelbröd, and focaccia. When I was pondering doing a “neeps and tatties” themed sandwich this week because of the first turnips of the season (hush if your Scottish, I know, I know, neeps are Swedes…or turnips…or both….or MAKE UP YOUR MIND!!!….sorry haha), I was thinking of a Scottish bread.

Besides the Scottish influence on aboriginal bannock, I wasn’t too familiar with anything else from the Scottish bread basket. I found a recipe for the soft bread/bun, Bap, and was on my way! Plus it’s a relatively easy, rustic bread so it’s great for my somewhat lackluster bread baking skills!!

Bap (Scottish Soft Buns/Bread):

1 cup spelt flour

1 cup Park wheat flour (or whole wheat bread flour)

1/2 tsp salt

2 Tbsp softened butter

1 cup warm water

1 cup milk (heated to about 37C/100F)

2-1/4 tsp active dry yeast

Pinch raw cane sugar

Milk for brushing

Extra flour for dusting

   In a large bowl, combine the spelt, Park wheat flour and salt. Crumble in the butter and massage it into the dry mixture until uniformly incorporated, like chunky peas. Make a well in the centre and add the warm water, milk, yeast and sugar. Stir to combine and allow to sit for 15-20 minutes until the yeast has become bubbly and frothy.

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Once it is bubbly, start to stir the flour-butter mixture into the yeast mixture, creating a soft, and slightly sticky dough. Gently knead briefly in the bowl and if it’s not sticky, add a tablespoon or two of warm water. Cover with a towel and allow to rise for about an hour, or until doubled in size.

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Turn the sticky dough out of the bowl on to a well-floured counter. Divide into four, form into balls and press down with the palm of your hand.

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Roll out the pressed dough a bit with a rolling pin, press with your thumb in the centre of each and transfer to a well-floured baking sheet. Brush with milk and dust heavily with more flour and allow to rise for 20 minutes.

   Preheat oven to 200C/400F.

   Bake risen dough in the preheated oven for 10 minutes or until the bottom, when tapped, sounds hollow, but the top of the bread is still soft.

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Option: The dough could be divided into 8 balls of dough instead of 4 to get more of a bun size. This recipe makes 4 breads about 15cm/6″ in diameter.