Archive for the ‘side dishes’ Category


I picked a few carrots from my garden this morning and was planning to add them to a stir fry, however, they looked so perfect and delicious I decided to use them in a salad. With minimal cooking the carrots retained not only their color but the crispness as well.

The markets are brimming with local and freshly picked produce this month, so take advantage and stock up on your favorites and preserve, dry or freeze what you don’t use right away.



If the carrots are organic, don’t discard the carrot tops. Blanch them for a few minutes and use them like spinach, in a salad, in soups and best of all add them to your pesto.


olive oil

balsamic vinegar

salt to taste

chopped garlic, basil and parsley

blanch carrots briefly for one minute so they retain their color and crispness

cut into your favorite shapes

add olive oil, balsamic vinegar

chopped basil and parsley

salt to taste and chopped garlic

mix well 


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grilled okra


This side dish of grilled okra is not only easy, fast and delicious but also nutritious and low in calories.

Pick up a few at your farmer’s market, wash and thread them onto a few skewers alone or with other veggies.  Season them with your favorite spices, drizzle them with lemon, or dip them in different sauces. The possibilities are endless. Be creative and have some fun with this amazing veggie.


Washed and ready to be seasoned and grilled.



Season with olive oil, salt and pepper and a little paprika.

Cook until the skin of the okra begins to caramelize and then flip to cook the other side. Enjoy!

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These stuffed potatoes not only look great but they were very good. Maila and Marilou add a little touch of Philippino cuisine to everything they cook and it always turns out fabulous.

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On my weekly visit to Jean Talon Market , yesterday, I came across these beautiful still perfect shepherd peppers. Last week I froze half a bushel so I decided to cut these up in strips, season them and roast them in the oven.

I didn’t time the roasting, but I checked them quite often. I wanted them roasted but not mushy.

Once done and cooled, I put them in jars, added a little olive oil and put the jars in the freezer. Do not fill the jars to the top. Allow headspace, ½-inch from the top. The headspace allows foods to expand during freezing and prevents the jar from breaking or the food from pushing through the lid.

Read more on How to Freeze Food in Glass Jars

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kale pesto


What’s New and Beneficial About Kale

Freshly picked kale from Lisa’s vegetable garden ready to be made into kale pesto.

blanched kale

kale pesto in small tupperware ready to be frozen


2 bunches of kale, thick stems removed and discarded, leaves shredded

1 cup parsley

1 cup basil

1 whole head of garlic

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup pine nuts, almonds or walnuts (toasted)

1 cup olive oil


Blanch the kale in boiling salted water for about 3 minutes

Chill in a cold water bath, drain and squeeze excess water

Add all ingredients, except oil, to a food processor, process until roughly chopped then drizzle in your olive oil


I add parmesan cheese if I use the pesto right away. If I make a batch to freeze, I leave out the cheese and add it in when I use the pesto in a recipe.


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eggplant balls

There are several ways you can prepare the eggplants for this recipe. Boiled, stir fried or roasted. I stir fried them with some sliced onions until soft. You can prepare the eggplants the day before and refrigerate them until needed. The balls can be fried or baked. Also if you skip the rolling in the breadcrumbs you can steam them the same way as dumplings. These may be served hot or cold, in a tomato sauce as a side dish or if you make them smaller you can add them to soups.


ingredients (about 20 balls)

to prepare eggplants

olive oil

1 chopped onion

3 large eggplants

to prepare balls

eggplant mixture

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

chopped parsley and basil

2 or 3 eggs depending on size

3 garlic cloves crushed

salt and pepper to taste

dry bread crumbs for rolling balls before baking

Preheat oven to 350* 

Clean the eggplants, peel them and slice them into strips

Stir fry the onion until translucent, add the eggplants and cook until soft

When cool, chop the eggplant in a food processor or mash with a fork

In a bowl combine the eggplant mixture with the parmesan cheese, garlic, basil, parsley, eggs and  season with salt and pepper

Wet your hands with a little water and shape the eggplant mixture into balls

Roll them in the breadcrumbs

Place them on a non-stick oven tray and bake them for 25 minutes until deep golden brown and slightly crusty


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There is nothing more relaxing to me than going to the Jean Talon market very early in the morning while the farmers are still setting up their displays and unloading their fresh produce.

Last Thursday, a young man, probably the son of the farmer was setting up a beautiful display of cauliflowers. He had them in rows of different colors and sizes. I was tempted to buy the biggest one, but I opted for a small traditional white one, only because I knew I would not have the time this week to cook it all. I decided to cut the cauliflower in small florets and make a quick stir fry to go with grilled chicken.


1 small cauliflower separated into small florets

2 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

1 chopped onion

few cloves of chopped garlic

chopped basil, parsley, celery (or any other herb you like)

parmesan cheese ______________________________________________________

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat

Add the onion and stir fry until slightly golden then start adding the cauliflower and stir until the florets are coated

Wait until it gets a bit brown on the bottom then toss the cauliflower with a spatula

Brown a bit more and continue to saute until the pieces are deeply golden – about six minutes.

In the last 30 seconds stir in the garlic

Remove from heat and stir in the parsley,  basil,  and celery

Dust with a bit of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and a pinch salt ______________________________________________________

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The zucchini flowers have to be picked before noon so they are still opened. They are fun to make but do take a little time. The best thing to do is prepare the stuffing the day before you plan to make them.

The stuffing I made here is with rice. But you can easily use ground beef or veal. I also use this stuffing to stuff peppers, tomatoes and eggplants.



1 cup rice

16 zucchini blossoms, stemmed & pistils removed

bunch of parsley, basil and other choice herbs, minced

garlic cloves minced

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/4 cup grated mozzarella

2 large eggs


Zucchini flowers from Maria & Ferruccio’s garden!

Preheat oven to 350*

Cook rice whichever method you prefer

Combine cooked rice and all other ingredients (except the flowers) in a bowl and mix thoroughly

Fill zucchini flowers to top and gather petals together

Lay the zucchini blossoms on a lightly oiled oven-proof dish and  drizzle a little more oil over them and bake them for about 15 minutes
Turn blossoms over and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes


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Adelina’s salads are always extremely fresh, crisp and very flavorful.

She lives walking distance to the Jean Talon Market, so she shops regularly, almost on a daily basis.

She takes her food shopping very seriously and will only buy produce that is at its’ peek.

She makes her own salad dressing in a small mason jar for easy mixing. She mixes a 1/4  cup of olive oil, chops a few garlic bulbs, a few leaves of parsley and basil and a little pinch of salt (most times she skips the salt). She gives the jar a little shake and leaves it on the counter to give everything a chance to develop into a flavorful and simple dressing.

For the salad, she always uses a variety of lettuce, romaine , radicchio, arugula, celery, black olives,  etc…. Just before serving, she drizzles the salad with the liquid and mixes everything very well.

Such a simple salad, but so colorful, full of flavor and made with so much passion!


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