1st June
written by Steph

Adobo Pork

Adobo pork with guacamole salad and corn tortillas

Since moving to Nashville, one of the food areas where my cooking has really expanded is without a doubt, Mexican. Before I came down here, my default cooking tended to be more Asian inspired (stir-frys and the like), but with the abundance of Mexican ingredients down here, I’ve definitely shifted toward foods that are South of the border. I’m sure the fact that Nashville really doesn’t have any good Chinese food (seriously!) is a contributing factor (whereas Toronto has a dearth of Mexican food… so weird!). There are plenty of Mexican places where Tony & I can eat out, but I’ve actually found it really rewarding to try my hand at creating Mexican dishes at home.

A couple of weeks ago we attended a celebratory party for a girl in my lab who had successfully defended her dissertation earlier that day. One of her advisors brought this amazing pork, that was both spicy and sweet, smoky and unctuous. Tony fell madly in love, and ever since then I’ve been trying to get my hands on the recipe. I finally got it last week and decided to try it myself. But here’s a fair warning: once you’ve had pork this way, you may never want to eat it any other way ever again… Ingredients
  • 1.5 - 2 lbs pork shoulder
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 3-4 chipotle (canned, in adobo sauce)
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes; charred in the oven for about 30 minutes until skin is easy to remove
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, roasted peel on in a hot pan until blackened in spots, then peeled
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • 1/8 tsp ground clove
  • 1/2C raisins
  • 1/2C slivered or chopped almonds; toasted in a pan
  • oil
  • salt
20th May
written by Steph

Mushroom & Pea Risotto with Pan-Seared Halibut

A few weeks ago, Tony and I took our dear friend Trisha out to dinner to celebrate her birthday.  We went to a restaurant called, Marché, that specializes in simple – but delicious – French dishes.  That evening, Trisha ordered the halibut and risotto combo, which really captured my imagination.  I decided I wanted to try to recreate it (with my own twists, naturally) at home.

Ingredients (serves 4, generously) For the Risotto
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups of diced mushrooms
  • ½ onion, finely minced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine (we used a Bogle sauvignon blanc that was wonderful)
  • 2 – 3 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 cup of frozen peas, thawed
  • zest from ½ a lemon
  • salt & pepper
For the Halibut
  • 4 4-ounce pieces of halibut (or another firm, white fish)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • salt, pepper, cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme
  • juice from ½ lemon
15th May
written by Steph

Spicy Mediterranean Pasta

This week has been ridiculously long, so I sent an email out yesterday afternoon to some friends suggesting a casual get together of cocktails and a light dinner. I thought it would be nice to catch up in a low-stress setting.  Now, the weather here in Nashville has been kind of wonky – chilly and brisk one day, only to be muggy and gross the next – and yesterday was definitely a case of the latter.  So I had to come up with a dinner that would be satisfying but not heavy and overly rich.  So, I came up with this spicy pasta dish, and it wound up being a huge hit.  As you can see from the pictures, it looks quite elegant and fancy schmancy if you plate it on a platter and serve it family style, but I promise it’s super simple.

Ingredients (serves 6)
  • 1 lb of skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • ground coriander seeds
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced (not minced)
  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced into rounds
  • 2 small red peppers, seeded and sliced into matchsticks
  • 3 large tomatoes, peeled and roughly seeded, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 16 oz can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 16 oz can of artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed and roughly chopped
  • ½ tbsp of smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/8 cup of vodka
  • zest and juice from ½ lemon
  • feta cheese
  • fresh basil
  • salt and pepper
  • spaghetti noodles (or other noodle of your choice)
16th April
written by Steph
Last night Tony and I celebrated our three-year anniversary!  We're both pretty on the ball when it comes to remembering dates (except when I maybe, accidentally told someone the wrong date when they asked us when we got married... but in my defense, I'd had maybe three too many drinks that night), but the anniversary of our first date is also Tax Day here in the U.S., and really, what says romance better than the IRS, am I right? 😉 But really, after a few weeks of sending emails back and forth on, and one phone conversation, Tony and I first laid eyes on one another in real life on April 15, 2007, around 5 pm.  And the rest, as they say, is history.  Sparks flew, and they only burn brighter three years later. To celebrate this year we decided to try out a new restaurant (well, new to us), and went to one of Nashville's fancier restaurants, F. Scott's (leave it to us to go to a literary-inspired eatery!). Hey, I'll take any excuse to wear a pretty dress! 🙂  After much research on my part, I settled on this place because it had the adventurous kind of menu that I love.  When we eat out, I like to try out stuff that I'd never have the stones (or the skill) to cook in my own kitchen, and F. Scott's definitely didn't disappoint! Click through the gallery below if you'd like detailed descriptions of what we ate: This meal was SO good.  Definitely our new favourite splurge restaurant, I think.  Everything we ate was divine, and even things we had eaten before at other places were finessed in really interesting and updated ways.  One of the things I love best about Tony (of course there's so much to love), is just how adventurous he is as a diner.  He never shirks away when I say things like "let's order chicken livers" (in fact, he kept most of it to himself...) or "oooh, fried marrow"! I figure there are plenty of ways to measure compatibility, but a couple that can happily dine together and guess what the other person wants to order off of the menu are bound for greatness, right? It's little wonder ranked us as 100% perfect matches! Three years in, I still marvel at how lucky I was to find Tony and how fortunate I am to spend my life with my best friend, a man who cherishes and challenges me every day. A poem by Neruda, and then one more tidbit:
‘Perhaps not to be is to be without your being.’
Perhaps not to be is to be without your being, without your going, that cuts noon light like a blue flower, without your passing later through fog and stones, without the torch you lift in your hand that others may not see as golden, that perhaps no one believed blossomed the glowing origin of the rose, without, in the end, your being, your coming suddenly, inspiringly, to know my life, blaze of the rose-tree, wheat of the breeze: and it follows that I am, because you are: it follows from ‘you are’, that I am, and we: and, because of love, you will, I will, We will, come to be.
In three months' time we celebrate our one-year wedding anniversary, which we promise to do in style!  After much discussion of possible getaways, the tickets have been bought, and from July 3 - July 12, 2010 Tony and I will find ourselves vacationing in.... PUERTO RICO! Soooo excited! Anyone who has ever been, recommendations/suggestions are greatly appreciated!
9th April
written by Steph

Peach Crisp

Despite a somewhat odd cold snap the past two days, the weather has rather balmy and warm (and sometimes downright hot!) the past week or so here in Nashville.  With the warmer weather of Spring in the air, I decided to whip up a lovely light dessert for dinner this past weekend when our friend Trisha was coming over to dine with us.  I toyed with the idea of doing a pear frangipane tart, but my fear of pastry is still somewhat high, so instead I decided to focus on a more rustic dessert: the peach crisp!  I used this recipe over at Une-Deux Senses as inspiration, but I found it needed some tweaking, so the following is my version of peach crisp. (more…)

25th March
written by Steph

Lamb kofta & vegetable stew

When Tony and I were in New York back in November we ate a lot of amazing food. Obviously.  But hands down, our favorite thing we ate was a lamb kofta from a halal street meat vendor.  It was a taste sensation, and I rue that we only ate there once AND that Tony would shove as much of it as possible into his gaping maw while pushing me into oncoming traffic to prevent me from doing the same.  I know the man loves me, but I am no match for that kofta.

Since then, I have been having intermittent cravings for that delicious dish, but who knows when we’ll have a chance to head back to New York.  So I set out to try and recreate it at home.  And as with so many attempts to replicate dishes, I came nowhere close to that now-almost-mythical kofta… but thanks to this recipe over at TasteFood I did make a pretty damn good dish anyway.  It doesn’t really taste anything like the thing we had in New York, but it’s tasty, filling, and healthy, so try it out! (more…)
18th March
written by Steph

Scrumptious Breakfast Burritos!

If I were to pick my favorite meal of the day, it would have to be breakfast.  I love breakfast foods, and even back in my past life as a college undergrad when I pretty much did not cook, I could still be counted on to rock a Sunday breakfast in grand style.  Heck, I love breakfast so much that “breakfast for dinner” is a frequent occurrence in the S&TI! household. Of late, one of my most beloved breakfast offerings has been the breakfast burrito.  After much trial and error, I think I’ve found the perfect combination of flavors and ingredients that result in a hearty and satisfying way to start your day (or end it, because they’re filling enough for dinner!), and best of all these burritos are never soggy! (more…)
9th March
written by Steph

Chicken Tikka Masala (aka "Heaven on a plate")

If you’re anything like Tony and I, then you list Indian food as one of your favorite ethnic cuisines.  Coming from Toronto, I was used to a surfeit of wonderful and authentic Indian restaurants (I’ve heard tell from people from India that some of the best Indian food they’ve ever eaten they’ve had in T.O.!), so you can imagine my dismay when I moved to Nashville and found the Indian restaurants here less than inspiring.  The few places that existed tended to season every dish the exact same way (chicken korma should NOT taste the same as aloo gobi!), and often left me feeling bogged down yet oddly bereft once I was finished.  Sure there’s a great veggie Indian place just down the street, but we’re omnivores, and sometimes we crave meat.  Thankfully a WONDERFUL Indian place opened up across the street from our apartment about a year ago and Tony and I have never looked back.  Generally speaking Bombay Palace now takes care of all of our Indian needs, but there is something oddly rewarding about creating great Indian food in your own kitchen.  This recipe that I’ve adapted from over at the Pioneer Woman’s site will allow you to do just that!  Think Indian food is too hard to make at home?  Think again! (more…)
22nd February
written by Steph

Celery & Stilton Soup! Yum!

What do you do when you have (for reasons that are somewhat confusing to you) a ton of celery in your fridge and a bunch of blue cheese?  I guess you’ve got the side fixins for some chicken wings, but if you’re me, you make soup!  And a really good one at that!  Of course, this is assuming that you enjoy blue cheese, but if not, what are you doing with it in your fridge? (more…)
4th February
written by Steph
Yesterday I celebrated my 27th birthday!  And when I say "celebrated" I mean celebrated!  Which is of course to say that I received presents and many lovely phone calls wishing me well, and had not one but TWO great meals!  Really, who doesn't feel good when the people you know say, "Hey!  Let's party, because the world is that much more awesome for having you in it!"? So, the first of the festivities involved going out for buffet lunch at our favorite Indian restaurant in Nashville, Bombay Palace.  To kick up the fun quotient, my friends Trisha and Abby joined us for lunch, and Trisha even bestowed dubious Asian candy upon me.  How dubious?  Let's just say that if you never dreamed of using the words "Kit Kat" and "V8" in the same sentence, I wouldn't have blamed you. Then, sadly I had to head back to school, but the afternoon flew by, and before I knew it, it was time to go home and begin the gift portion of the evening!  Tony was very sweet and gave me: a set of Laguiole steak knives (with neon yellow handles!), a large ceramic dutch oven, AND a pair of Ultimate Ears noise-isolating earphones (which I have been lamenting/coveting ever since I wore out my last pair of trusty UE earphones).  A wonderful combination of practical and splurge-y gifts!  You know you are getting older when you get excited about receiving steak knives for your birthday, right? 😉  But seriously, so happy with the gifts because they are all things that I wanted but wouldn't have bought for myself, and those are always the best gifts! And then, it was dinner!  We decided to try a place we'd never eaten at before but was purportedly very good (and ideal for a fancy birthday dinner): Miel.  With a name like that, you wouldn't be wrong if you suspected that the food was of the French persuasion (or, you know, honey), and yes, it was very, very good.  Click through the gallery below if you would like an in-depth photo tour (with descriptions!) of the big meal: The meal was wonderful, and I think we've found a new place we can go when in the mood for a splurge.  I think my favorite dish of the evening was actually Tony's risotto - it was so rich and creamy, and the scallops were cooked to perfection (if you don't believe me, I'll simply say that historically Tony has not loved scallops, but he was won over last night!). The portions were huge, so we took our leftovers home and will be able to relive that section of the meal again tonight! 😉 Lest you think the birthday festivities are done now that my actual birthday has passed, fear not!  The joy of having a mid-week birthday is that you're entitled to celebrate on the weekend!  So tomorrow night, Tony - with the aid of Abby & Trisha - has cooked up secret celebrations (my favorite kind, as it means I have no hand in the planning! 😉 )  Hurrah!  Long live the birthday (and me!)!
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