Avocado pesto with black bean spaghetti

Avocado Pesto

This recipe is blend of Mexican and Italian ingredients and I think it’s a winner. The pesto sauce is really easy to make. I used a gluten-free black bean spaghetti today, but you can use any pasta you like. I thought the avocado would go well with the black bean. This particular recipe ended up being quite spicy, but you can leave out the pepper completely or just use half.


2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

4 cloves of garlic, cut in half

1 serrano pepper, without seeds

1/3 cup grated romano cheese

1 tbsp pine nuts

the juice of half a lemon

1/3 cup parsley

1/4 cup cilantro

1 avocado

2-3 tbsp water

1/2 tsp salt

Warm the olive oil in a pan on low heat. Add the garlic and serrano pepper. Allow the flavours to infuse into the olive oil for a few minutes or until the garlic is light brown. Let cool.

Put all of the ingredients in the food processor. Add the garlic/pepper flavoured olive oil too. Add two of the cooked garlic cloves. Don’t add the peppers. Trust me. It will be spicy enough without them.

Blend all the ingredients in the food processor. Put the pesto sauce in a pan and warm it on low heat. Then add the cooked pasta. If the pesto sauce seems a little thick, just add a little warm pasta water. Stir the pasta until it’s the sauce is well incorporated. Top with a little more romano cheese and serve. I added some grilled corn for a little sweet and some tomatoes for a little acid. I think it worked. These two cultures came together beautifully in this dish. If you try it, let me know what you think.


Osso Buco

Osso Buco

This is not a traditional Italian recipe, but I think you’ll like it. I used Port wine instead of white wine. If you’re wondering if that made the osso buco sweet, it didn’t. I also used a rub instead of dredging the veal shanks in flour so this recipe is 100% gluten-free. The sauce thickened up just fine without it and it was really tasty.

Ingredients for rub:

2 veal shanks

3 tsp brown sugar

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1/4 tsp white pepper

1/4 tsp sage

1/2 tsp salt

Put all the spices on a plate. Feel free to improvise with your spices, but do include the cumin, brown sugar and some kind of red pepper. Those ingredients are the most important. I just use my hands to combine the spices. Then dredge the veal shanks in the rub and then place in a hot pan with two tablespoons olive oil. Brown each side of the veal shank for a minute or two. It should be be a nice dark brown colour. Remove and set aside.

Other Ingredients:

2-3 tbsp olive oil

1 carrot, chopped

1 celery stalk, chopped

3 shallots, chopped

1 serrano pepper, without seeds and chopped

5 cloves of garlic, cut in half

1 sprig of rosemary

4 sprigs of thyme

1 bay leaf

12 cherry tomatoes

1/2 tsp salt

1/3 cup Port

3 cups beef stock

1 tbsp tomato paste

Add the vegetables and salt to the same pan. You may need to add another tablespoon of olive oil. Cook them for just a couple of minutes. I cook them just long enough to caramelize them a little. They will continue to cook in the stock later. Now add the Port and deglaze the pan. Allow the Port to reduce a little. Then add the tomato paste and beef stock. Bring to a boil. Turn down to low heat and add seared veal shanks. The stock should cover the veal shanks 3/4 of the way.

Put the lid on your oven proof pan and put it in the oven. Cook for approximately 3 hours at 300 degrees. Turn them over once or twice while the shanks braise in the oven. While that’s happening prepare the gremolata.

Ingredients for Gremolata:

2 tbsp chopped parsley

1 tbsp lemon zest (1 lemon)

1 diced garlic clove

You can never have too much gremolata.

The osso buco is ready when it’s nearly falling off the bone. You can tie butcher’s twine around the shanks in an effort to keep them on the bone. As you can see, I didn’t do that. I’m out of twine right now.

Top with the osso buco with the gremolata. I like larger pieces of lemon rind and garlic, but you can cut them up smaller if you like. You’ll notice I added a little orange rind too, but I wouldn’t do that again. You can drizzle a little olive oil over the gremolata too if you want. It’s up to you.

Serve the osso buco with the carb of your choice. Mashed potatoes are always a good choice when you have lots of sauce. Orzo pasta or polenta would be good options too. Just serve it with a baguette and sop up that sauce with it. I’m getting hungry again.


Shrimp Tacos

Shrimp Tacos

This post is inspired by the “camaron” taco at our favourite taqueria in Vancouver, Los Cuervos. If you haven’t been before, you should check them out. Their tacos are the best in Vancouver. For more information about Los Cuervos, check out our recent write up under the restaurants tab or click here:  https://westrosa.com/restaurants/los-cuervos-taqueria/

If you want to try making my version of these tacos at home, here’s my recipe.

Pico de gallo salsa ingredients:

1/2 cup diced white onion (1/2 an onion)

2 tbsp diced jalapeno (1 jalapeno pepper, no seeds)

The juice of one lime

1 tsp salt

3 medium firm tomatoes, diced (remove seeds)

3 tbsp cilantro

I would recommend making the salsa first and refrigerating it until you’re ready to serve the tacos.

In a bowl, add your diced onions and jalapeño peppers. Then add the lime juice and salt. Stir.

Add the diced tomatoes to the bowl, but do not stir the tomatoes in with the other ingredients. Just lay them on top for now. The salt and lime juice can make your tomatoes soggy. Add your cilantro to the bowl. Again, don’t stir. The cilantro can taste soapy if it rests in the lime juice  for too long.

You can combine all of the salsa ingredients just before spooning the pico de gallo onto your tacos.

Taco Ingredients:

8 small warm tortillas (corn or flour)

16/20 medium sized deveined raw shrimp

2 diced avocados

The juice of 1/2 a lime

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup plum sauce

Shrimp Taco

Get all of your taco ingredients ready before making your shrimp batter so that the batter doesn’t rest too long and so that you can serve the tacos as soon as the shrimp are cooked.

Squeeze the juice of half a lime on the diced avocados so that they don’t turn brown. Salt your avocados and put them in the fridge until you’re ready to serve your tacos.

Shrimp batter Ingredients:

1 egg

1 cup ice cold water

3/4 cup sifted flour

1/4 cup corn starch

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp paprika

Whisk all of the ingredients together. Try not to over mix the batter. It will make the batter gummy. Submerge the shrimp into the batter.

I don’t like to use a lot of oil to fry the shrimp, just enough to cover the bottom of a small saucepan.

Be careful. You may get some splatter when frying. I like to use chopsticks to place the battered shrimp into the pan. It allows me to keep my hands a little further away from the hot oil.

Do a test run with just one shrimp to see how things go. Fry the shrimp in small batches. You don’t want to overcrowd your pan because it will reduce the temperature of the oil and you may end up with a soggy oily batter. The oil needs to be hot. Set your oven burner temperature to high.

Cook them for a minute or two on each side and them flip them over. The batter should look golden brown.

To assemble your tacos, drizzle the plum sauce onto the warm tortillas. (You can warm the tortillas in a pan or put them in the microwave for 20 seconds). Then add some avocado, some cooked shrimp and top with the pico de gallo salsa.

It’s not difficult to make these tacos, but it does take some time and effort. That’s why we usually have them at Los Cuervos. They are delicious and they do all the work for you. They’ll even bring you a delicious margarita while you wait. Here’s the link to their menu: http://www.loscuervos.ca/Menu.html


Roast Quail with Honey Garlic Glaze

Roast Quail

If you’ve never had quail before, it really does taste a lot like chicken. It’s not too gamey. It’s pretty easy to cook, but a little cumbersome to eat as there’s not a lot of meat. Most of the meat is in the breast and in the legs. I had quail for the first time at a restaurant and I managed to eat it all with a knife and fork, but if you’re having it at home, you might want to use your hands to eat the leg meat. I’ll leave the particulars up to you, but do try it. It’s very tasty. If you live in Vancouver, you can purchase quail in the freezer section of Columbus Meat Market.

Ingredients for the quail:

6 quail

1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper

1 orange

6 cloves of garlic

2 shallots

1 bunch of parsley

Season your quail with salt and pepper inside and out. Stuff the quail with small pieces of the orange (with the peel), garlic, shallots and parsley. Brown the quail in a pan with the oil and butter before putting it in the oven. This will only take a couple of minutes on both sides. This is mostly to enhance the colour as it roasts in the oven. Of course, the browning imparts some nice flavour too. If you want to skip this step, you can. Instead, just brush the quail with the melted equal parts butter and olive oil before it goes into the oven. It will get brown nicely this way too.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Cook the quail for 15 minutes at this temperature and then lower the temperature to 400 degrees and cook for approximately 15 to 20 minutes more. The cook time will depend on your oven, the size of the quail and how well done you like your quail. It’s okay if it’s a little pink inside, but I prefer it cooked through.

Take the quail out of the oven. Allow it to rest for 10 minutes. While the quail is resting, you can put together a quick Asian style glaze to pour on top. This will be enough to coat the quail on top, but if you want to be extra generous with the glaze, you can double the ingredients listed below.

Ingredients for glaze:

1 tbsp honey

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp plum sauce (optional)

1 tsp sesame oil

1 tsp grated garlic (1 clove)

1 tsp chili paste (optional)

1 tsp sesame seeds

Combine all of the ingredients in a pan and cook on low heat for just a couple of minutes. We served the quail with couscous and roasted vegetables. You could also serve it on orzo pasta or gnocchi. It’s up to you, but I would serve it with something substantial because there’s not a lot of protein on these birds.