I never thought I’d be nostalgic for the 90s, it wasn’t exactly a landmark decade like the 60s. I heard someone say that every other decade is a great one – 20s, 40s, 60s, 80s and so on… though, I’m not sure that those who suffered through shoulder pads and pastel suits would agree. I guess when you get to a certain age even the most tacky fashions, music and pop icons start to conjure sentimental feelings (can you say Hammer pants?)

I miss grunge and the dreamy Eddie Vedder, baby doll dresses, skater boys and Doc Martens with long floral skirts – it seems like that may have been the last of the fun and simple times to grow up in. I feel so old saying that, but with the internet and social media things have gotten so complicated.

 

I felt super old when a co-worker of mine mentioned not being alive in a time before the Simpsons… D’oh! Alright, maybe I am getting old – thirty eight in August – but it only feels that way because of all the things we have seen come and go. I remember people smoking in shopping malls and on planes… and in hospitals for that matter! Life without a cell phone, life without a computer, life without cable… Rotary phones and no call waiting, full service gas stations, dentists with no rubber gloves, malls closed on Sundays, one cent candy at the convenience stores and dogs and cats running freely about the neighbourhood. I never thought I’d use the phrase “when I was a kid…”, but it has escaped my lips on numerous occasions.

nicoisevert2One thing that has improved is our exposure to great food. With a growing emphasis on health and nutrition, doors have opened availability to better grains (quinoa is everywhere), produce (can you say kale revolution?), and a focus on eating locally and ethically. I’ve never eaten terribly unhealthy, but now I know how to eat better. I’d love to make that jump to being a vegetarian simply for environmental reasons, but I loves my meat! I just try and eat less of it.

Fish has made it into our fridge more frequently (though I have seem some alarming documentaries on that too), and I am learning to love it. Johnny could eat seafood every day of his life, so I am concocting dishes we both can get excited about.

Change is good… but I sure do miss slow dancing to “November Rain”, boys smelling of Drakkar Noir and Cool Water, plaid shirts (grunge-wise, not ironic hipster), and Jolt Cola… a simpler time indeed. Besides, if I ever find myself longing for those days I can always pop in “Reality Bites” to see a greasy Ethan Hawke and waif queen Winona Ryder.

 

nicoise

 

SALMON NICOISE AND TOASTED ISRAELI COUS COUS

serves 2 as a meal

I have been playing around with Israeli (or pearl) cous cous lately and discovered that Johnny absolutely adores it. It’s a great alternative to rice and takes a simple dish to swanky proportions. I work at a French bistro and am a lucky girl eating there often, but it’s a lot of Coq au Vin, Boeuf Bourguignon and Sole Meuniere (the French and their butter…). Nicoise salad is a great – and light – way to celebrate the flavours of France without slipping into a food coma.

From the traditional Nicoise I omitted the potato in lieu of the cous cous and skipped the haricot vert – they aren’t a favourite in our house. If you like – toss in some blanched green beans for a nice crunch. It would also be easy to swap out the cous cous for quinoa making it a gluten free option.

So grab a crusty baguette and a crisp glass of rose or white from Provence and dine al fresco avec ton amourxo

 

3/4 cup Israeli couscous
3/4 cup water
350g skinless salmon fillet
1 lemon, quartered
1 heaping tbsp capers
15 kalamata olives, pitted and halved
20 grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1 shallot, peeled and sliced lengthwise
2 large handfuls of mixed mescaline lettuce or greens of your choice
2 hard boiled eggs, peeled, cut into quarters and seasoned with salt and pepper
Dressing:
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 heaping tsp anchovy paste
1 heaping tsp spicy dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp sugar
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

 

To make the dressing: combine all the ingredients in a jar with a lid and shake vigorously.

For the couscous: put a pan over medium heat and add a splash of oil. Toast the couscous with a pinch of salt for 5-6 minutes, stirring to frequently. Add the water and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes stirring a couple times and adding a little more water if needed. Shut off the heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Spread the couscous on a lightly oil cookie sheet to cool and keep from clumping together. *This step can be done up to a day ahead, just toss in a little olive oil and refrigerate covered.

To cook the salmon: heat a nonstick pan to medium/high, season your salmon with salt and pepper and add to the pan with a little oil. Cook the salmon a few minutes on each side depending on the thickness. When just cooked through, remove to cool. Flake the salmon into thick chunks. and squeeze half the lemon over top.

To assemble the salad: toss the couscous with half the dressing in a large bowl. Then add the capers, olives, tomato, shallot and lettuce with the rest of the dressing and toss again to combine. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, pepper or lemon if needed. Top with the salmon and egg. Serve with the rest of the lemon wedges.
Bon Appetit mes amis!

nicoise3

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