Tuesday, 20 May 2014

For the Love of Spice

I love spicy food. Not always, mind, but when I get a craving for it – look out! I don’t care for just hot because there is no flavour. There is a difference between spicy and hot. I like spicy food to be flavourful – or as my niece calls it “Tasty.” The flavours have to melt on my tongue mingled with heat and little bit of sting. Now that is spicy food! Ooh la la!

When I get a craving for spicy food, I usually get it in the late afternoon on my way home from work as I am thinking of what to make for dinner if I haven’t made menus for the week. My go to spicy dish is Cajun chicken Caesar salad. It is easy and quick to make and the perfect combo with the Caesar dressing balancing out the heat of the spice on the chicken. I used to use a store bought Cajun spice mix, but I found that it was too salty and I would be downing several glasses of water throughout the evening after dinner. I looked endlessly for a low sodium alternative locally and also during my travels. On a trip to New Orleans twelve years ago I did find a very tasty Cajun spice mix, but alas, it was still a little too salty for my taste.

I was mentioning it to my mother one day and she said, “Why don’t you just make your own Cajun spice mix?” Hmmm. Why not? A light bulb went off and I was in the kitchen experimenting with different spices in the following weeks and searched the Internet for a low sodium/salt spicy/tasty version. In the end, I found an awesome combo of spices on the Canadian Living website that had very little salt:

1/4 cup paprika
1/4 cup dried parsley
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

You can add other spices or adjust the amounts above depending on what you like. I like to add more cayenne pepper and a little less parsley. Adjust according to your own flavour favourites or taste.

Here are a few pics of making my Cajun chicken Caesar salad for dinner tonight.

**Post Script:** Add the spice mix after you finish cooking your chicken/protein as this will prevent the spices from burning or going bitter when cooked too long.

All the spices before mixing.


Just put the chicken in a hot pan with a little oil.

Chicken cooking just before adding spice.

Romaine prepped and ready.

The final product.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

National Banana Bread Day

Today is National Banana Bread Day and in honour of today I made - what else - banana bread.

As mentioned in my previous post, Monsieur Cuisine and I have been on the move and in that move I have gotten rid of a few things to make life simpler and also we had to downsize to move to a place downtown. What I did not realize until today is that I must have gotten rid of my loaf pans. Of course this problem did not surface until I needed said loaf pan to put the dough of the banana bread into. So, I improvised and made the banana bread in a cake tin and it turned out really well. A banana bread cake, if you will. Although I do have to say that I like it in the loaf shape. It is easier to freeze and is not that large so would fit in my now small freezer. Again, I improvised and cut it into quarters and froze it that way. All in all, it made for a tasty, moist and delicious bread to have with my evening tea.

Here are a few images of its progress as it was being made.

About to mix the dry and wet ingredients.

Ready to go into the oven.

Fresh from the oven!

Getting ready to cut into quarters.

Ate this with my tea. Had help from Monsieur Cuisine of course!

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Food Memories

I came across a quote today on a great blog called Foodimentary. The quote said: "I strongly believe that culinary love is not about having a French Passport, but about what you feel." Albert Roux. I truly believe this. You do not need a fancy chef education to enjoy or make wonderful food. Be it French, Italian, Spanish, etc.; all you need is love of food and love of the taste of food.

My mother is Latina and all my favourite memories growing up were around a dinner table. Food was the main part of us all coming together to talk. We connected strongly and daily. We didn’t have much, but my mum made sure we had food – good food. She made a lot of it herself and when my Abuelita (that’s grandma to you English speakers) came to stay with us, she spent most of her day in the kitchen cooking up these delicious breakfasts, lunches and dinners. She made porridge taste so good, I never turned it down. And to this day, people are surprised to say I like porridge. It is all in how it is made. And like the quote, I have fond memories and feelings surrounding that time with my Abuelita.

I know I haven’t written in almost a year. I know, I know, it is inexcusable. I promise to try and write more this year. Monsieur Cuisine and I have been on the move (we moved three times in the last half of 2013 *irritated face*) so I have not been able to cook too much with my pots and pans in boxes. Now that we are settled again, I have been in the kitchen a little more and have been tweeting. Check out my twitter handle @Madame_Cuisine. I have also had to make a few dietary changes this last year: no dairy and cut down on gluten. It has been a bit of a challenge to say the least on the first change. I love yoghurt and cheese, so that has been tough. I am not a big bread fan anyway, so that adjustment has not been too hard.

So, here is to 2014. Here is to more writing, more cooking and sharing more with family and friends. And sharing with you of course!