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Cool it Down or Spice it Up: My Favourite Summer Recipes

Favourite Summer Recipes ©2014 La Domestique

All that talk about summer grilling in my previous blog post made me a bit nostalgic. I’ve gone through the La Domestique archives and plucked out a few of my favourite recipes for high summer. It’s all about keeping the cooking simple and quick. Get out of the kitchen as much as possible and fire up the grill. These dishes range from bold and punchy to light and refreshing. Whether you’re looking to cool down or spice it up, I’ve got something fun for you.  

Mussels Cooked In Rosé

Grilled Scallions with Romesco

Chilled Cucumber Soup

Poached Fish with Tomato-Saffron Broth and Garden Vegetables

Grilled Squid with Tomatoes and Basil

Watermelon Granita with Mint and Lime

Strawberry Tart

Tomato Salad with Grilled Shrimp, Corn and Chilli-Lime Vinaigrette

 

Grilled Broccoli with Black Olive Tapenade

Grilled Broccoli with Olive Tapenade ©2014 La Domestique

I love grilling. Maybe it’s because I grew up in the Southern United States where people take their BBQ seriously. Maybe it’s because I get to create perfectly caramelized grill marks on my food. Or maybe it’s because the sizzle and the smoky aromas always take me back to carefree Arkansas summers spent by the pool.

During summer I grill almost every single night because it’s quick and easy. Grilled broccoli was a revelation for me—charring this slightly bitter brassica gives it a smoky, caramelized sweetness. Any true Southerner knows that good condiments are essential to BBQ and I’ve paired the charred broccoli with tapenade, a boldly flavoured olive paste. Tapenade is open to variation based on what herbs you’ve got on hand. Basil, lemon-thyme, mint, oregano or even lavender would be fine substitutions for the rosemary. For this recipe, a good quality extra virgin olive oil is worth using. Splurge on a special bottle with plenty of spice and vibrant flavour. Take note that this tapenade is a briny sauce flavoured with two cloves of fresh garlic—be ready for its punch! Here the spirit of Italian antipasti embraces French Provençal flavours in a dish that’s perfect for munching on in a sunny garden with either a glass of Prosecco or rosé wine.

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Easy Everyday Vegetable Stir-Fry

Easy Stir Fry Ingredients ©2014 LaDomestique

We had a couple days of unbelievable sunshine and warmth here in Dublin this week (though today it has turned cloudy and cool). In true la belle vie style my husband made the last minute decision to take a vacation day and we skedaddled off to Portmarnock beach. It felt so good to put my feet in the warm sand, breathe the salty air and listen to the ocean waves. When the weather is warm and the days are spent outdoors having fun all I really want is to come home and throw together something quick and easy for supper.

Taking a break from meat and carbohydrates for one meal can leave you feeling a bit lighter and healthier. That being said, you’ll be surprised at how filling a bowl of stir-fried vegetables can be. My Easy Everyday Vegetable Stir-Fry is packed with ingredients that promote the health of your skin– which really needs that extra support during summer battling the sun’s rays. Carrots, broccoli and Bok Choi are all known for their skin-boosting vitamins and minerals. Both broccoli and carrots are high in the anti-oxidant beta-carotene, while carrots contain silicon for strengthening nails and skin. No need to peel organic carrots– just wash and scrub off the dirt. Also, don’t discard those broccoli leaves– they’ve got higher levels of beta-carotene than the florets and stalks. Toss the broccoli leaves into your stir-fry at the end with the Bok Choi leaves.

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My Favourite Picnic Recipes

During summer I prefer to savour my meals outside, don’t you? On a recent sunny Irish weekend the husband and I enjoyed breakfast, lunch and dinner al fresco on the patio with little Minnie (our dachshund) sunbathing at our feet. Today I’ve gathered up a few of my favourite summer recipes perfect for le pique-nique. All of these dishes are simple to throw together and will hold up well as you travel to find the perfect spot.

Strawberry, Spinach and Quinoa Salad

Pasta Primavera

Spanish Tortilla with Red Peppers, Chorizo and Manchego

Wheat Berry Salad with Roasted Fennel and Red Bell Pepper

Panzanella

Spring Pea and Herb Salad

Lemon Curd Tart

 

Delicious Detox Beetroot, Avocado and Wild Rice Salad

Delicious Detox Beetroot Salad ©2014 La Domestique

I don’t believe I ever saw a single beetroot growing up. Never even thought much about that strange dirt cloaked root until I grew up and planted a garden. I fell in love with beets after tasting my very first homegrown beet baby, pulled from the soil just minutes before cooking.

I love beetroot because it’s not just flavourful—it’s highly aromatic. I’m not talking about the shrivelled specimens, petrified beet fossils left to languish in supermarket fridges. Freshly harvested beetroot from the garden or farmers market is perfumed with the sweet and musky scent of the soil.

The shockingly crimson colour of beetroot is due to a special type of anti-oxidants called betacyanins, which aid the liver in detoxifying the body while also reducing cholesterol and blood pressure. Beets are packed with iron and B vitamins as well, to keep your blood cells healthy and your nerves firing on all cylinders. I’m talkin’ all sorts of anti-inflammatory goodness to keep your heart pumping and your blood flowing.

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Celebrate the Season: Spring Pea, Spinach and Fennel Soup

Spring Pea, Spinach and Fennel Soup ©2014 La Domestique

June is the height of spring, when the garden really starts producing. You can see pink radish shoulders poking out of the soil, voluptuous bunches of salad greens and perfect pea pods dangling from delicate trellised vines. It’s an exciting time for a gardener, harvesting the first bounty of the year and bringing it straight to the table. The veg is still alive and full of nutritious goodness. You see, once vegetables are picked they begin to deteriorate, losing precious vitamins and minerals. By the time they reach the supermarket and languish on the counter for days these vegetables are only a shadow of their former selves. You may be trying to do the right thing and eat healthy fresh produce, but it’s just not the same as freshly harvested produce. The missing ingredient: life.

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Foolproof Fish: Salmon Cooked in a Parchment Paper Bag

Foolproof Salmon in Parchment ©2014 LaDomestique

 

Let’s talk about fish…

First of all, fish is SO good for you

 

Especially oily fish, like salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines, lake trout and tuna.

These fishes are rich in omega-3 fatty acids—essential for your brain, your mental/emotional function and reducing your risk of heart disease, cancer and other inflammatory disorders.

 

Secondly, fish is delicious

 

I love fish because it’s light and healthy but also a satisfying meal that gives me long-lasting energy.

How much oily fish should you be eating to reap the benefits?

The American Heart Association recommends people eat omega-3-rich oily fish AT LEAST two times a week. A serving is 3.5 ounces of cooked fish.

 

Finally, fish is easy!

 

Yes it is! I know cooking fish intimidates many of you, but I promise you can do it. Today I want to share my go-to method for teaching beginners to cook fish: salmon cooked in a parchment paper bag. You’ll love this because it’s impossible to mess up! I’ve even created a video on how to make the parchment paper bag.

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5 Facts Everyone Should Know About Coeliac Disease

Middlle Eastern Salad ©2014 LaDomestique

I have a confession to make: for a long time I didn’t take coeliac disease seriously. Back in 2007, when I worked in a fine dining French restaurant, gluten-free was just becoming a thing. To chefs and waiters it was an annoyance, right up there with being allergic to garlic (which is in EVERYTHING) or being vegan (no disrespect, vegans).

Today gluten-free is mainstream and I bet everyone knows someone who avoids the gluten grains (wheat, barley and rye). Though we’re all much more aware of gluten intolerance, many of us really don’t fully understand it. This week is Coeliac Awareness Week in Ireland, and May is Celiac Disease Awareness Month in the United States, and it’s time for you to get savvy about celiacs, whether you get the squirts from eating gluten or not.

The Coeliac Disease Awareness campaigns have really opened my eyes about gluten intolerance, and I’ve learned a few facts that are going to change the way you think about your gluten intolerant friends forever. If you suspect you may be intolerant to gluten, this could be the push you need to get serious about it today.

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Chickpea Power! Two Healthy Salads to Fuel You All Day

Lemony Broccoli Chickpea Salad ©2014 La Domestique

Bonjour! How is your week going? The husband and I survived our big move to Dublin last weekend. We are still living out of boxes and getting settled into the new routine. Our little dachshund, Minnie, likes her new home and all the kids running around the park next door to our apartment. Now that I’ve got my kitchen organized I’m busy working on some new programs to help you put healthy, delicious meals on the table every day. (For more info on this, check out my most recent post, Seeds of Change and Recipe for Green Spring Salad with Quinoa and Lemon.) I’m excited to roll out my new Cooking Coach services very soon!

I hope you enjoy the first weekly edition of La Belle Vie weekly newsletter delivered to your inbox this evening! If you haven’t subscribed hop on over to the home page or about page and get your name on the list! Subscribe this week and get a bonus recipe for the ras el hanout spice blend used in my Moroccan Spiced Carrot and Chickpea Salad below.

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Seeds of Change and Recipe for Green Spring Salad with Quinoa and Lemon

Green Spring Salad with Quinoa ©2014 LaDomestique

 

Happy May Day! Spring is in full bloom here in the Irish countryside—little lambs are bouncing across the fields, sedge warblers are singing their hearts out, and tiny yellow primroses are blooming at the edges of winding roads. The warm sunshine and longer days cast a positive glow on everything this time of year. Spring brings the excitement of a fresh start, a chance to begin again.

The theme this month at La Domestique is change.

On the surface it’s been quiet, but underneath we’re a hive of activity.

The first change is a personal announcement:

One year ago my husband and I (and our little dog, Minnie) made the big move from America to Ireland, returning to his homeland. His job brought us to a small country town in the northern province of Ulster. In just a few days we move to the big city of Dublin. We’re sad to leave good friends behind, but at the same time excited for all the possibilities that await us in the bustling city.

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About Jess

Jess O'Toole is La Domestique, photo by James Anderson

Hi, I’m Jess, aka La Domestique. No matter how busy or cooking-challenged you are I can help you live the good life and enjoy fresh, healthy meals at home every day. Find out more

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