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My father-in-law has arrived in Toronto for a visit in between leaving Tel Aviv and heading to his home base on this continent in Boca Raton, which always means a bevy of food choices and Spanish wine every night. I like that kind of consistency. Yet, how to maintain a level of healthy eating and cooking so as to not dive headlong into disaster while he’s visiting for the weekend? I settled on spice.

Spice is the right moderator when decadent personality types come together – it satisfies some calling, some longing for “the delectable” without having to lose your mind in red meat and belgian chocolate. I thought it would be the perfect time to try out three recipes that seemed especially delectable to me and are a source of some recipe desire: spiced salmon, Land of Spice lentil salad (recommended by Jess, but courtesy of My New Roots) and lastly a tapenade that is mostly beans instead of a million calories of olives.

Breakfast:day 19 of 30 Healthy Eating Challenge

3/4 cup: Power Protein Vector cereal

1 cup almond milk

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1 sliced apple

…..

Lunch:

I knew supper was going to be a bit of a feast, so I stayed on the light side of lunch with a 1/4 cup tamari almonds and sunflower seeds and a sliced pear.

…..

Aperitif:

Rye bread “Crostini” (400 degrees – 10 minutes with a splash of olive oil)

Garlicky Black Bean Spread:

  • Makes about 40 bite sized appetizers
  • 1 cup black beans (I pressure cooked them, of course.)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons parsley
  • 8 manzanillo olives with pimento

Pulse all ingredients in the food processor to desired consistency for a spread. Top with fresh cut basil.

Supper:

Land of Spice Lentil Salad (recipe below)

Spiced Salmon

Sliced avocado

I have mentioned in earlier posts about how many times I’ve eaten overcooked salmon – and it’s not very good. The most important thing I can say about great salmon is that it is best grilled (in my humble opinion) and that in the grilling process try not to overcook it as it is not a grilling item that you “flip”- it only cooks on one side. As soon as you see that last bit of red in the salmon lighten to an even dark pink colour. It is time to pull it off the grill. What makes salmon truly delicious at our house is a spice mixture that we put on top. Sometimes, if we’re feeling lazy, we use Montreal Steak spice and it is a fairly decent substitute, but when company’s coming…pull out the mortar.

Salmon Spice Topping:

For all ingredients you need the closest to the “whole chunk” whether that is a seed, or a corn, or a big crusty piece of salt – everything should be in its coarsest state.

  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse fleur de sel
  • 1/4 teaspoon red and black peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon dill seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt

Coat one side of the fish generously and enjoy with gusto.

Land of Spice Lentil Salad (from My New Roots)

  • 2 ¼ cups green lentils (the original recipe called for Du Pey – or black beluga – lentils which are seriously delicious but hard to find…and I live in Toronto – so that’s saying something)
  • 1/2 cup chopped raisins (chopped to roughly the same size as the lentils)
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
  • entire jar of capers
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • The original recipe also called for red onion and I thought of substituting shallot, but in the end decided to forgo onion as I frequently find it overpowering more subtle flavours.

Land of Spice Lentil Salad

1000 Spices Dressing (drag out the mortar again):

  • 1/3 cup cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp. dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin (grind up cumin seeds in the mortar)
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander seeds
  • ½ tsp ground black cardamom pods
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • ¼ tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon

Note about grinding spices: most of the spices came out flawlessly in the mortar including cinnamon and cardamom. The only suggestion I have is to do the black cardamom first because the “pod” when you bash it releases its spicy seeds and you dispose of the fibrous “husk” whereas everything else just grinds down whole, and grating the nutmeg does matter, so just do it if you have a zester and that delicious little nut.

I topped everything again with fresh cut basil. This salad dressing of a million and one spices was extremely satisfying with the more salt and pepper buttery-ness of the fish – truly an excellent combination if you’re searching for salty, sweet and spicy to commingle in one meal.

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