spring has sprung

greenhouse gardens

Spring has officially sprung and we at Kootenay Spice could not be happier! We are very fortunate to have such a long gardening season in the West Kootenay. We can plant in the ground around mid-May and we harvest well into October, sometimes even into November!

tulips

Our crocuses have come and gone, daffodils are in full bloom and tulips are just about ready to bloom! Above is one of our faourite shot of some tulips from a couple of years ago.

4x10 garden

For the past few weeks, we have been prepping our yard for what we anticipate to be our best season ever. Shannon’s dad was in town in early April and generously helped us set up our greenhouse and build 4 new garden beds; two 4’x10’ in the yard plus a 3’x9’ and 3’x6’ in the greenhouse. These were in addition to a 4’x10’ that we built a couple of years ago! A little bit of compost and a truckload of quality soil later, we are excited to get planting!

two 4x10s

Do you enjoy gardening? What are your favourite things to plant? Veggies? Flowers? Herbs?

greenhouse

hot spinach salad - cropped

hot spinach salad

We absolutely love using spinach in the Kootenay Spice Kitchen. We use it as a replacement for lettuce in many dishes including Caesar salads, on burgers, pizzas and so much more. You may recognize this salad from our salmon steak and spinach salad post a few weeks ago.

hot spinach salad

To make this hot spinach salad you will need:

1 bag baby spinach (250g/9oz)
2 strips bacon, cooked and chopped
3 mushrooms, sautéed and chopped
½ small red onion, chopped into thin strips
2 tablespoons pine nuts
¼ cup water

When we make our hot spinach salad, we like to mix the cooked spinach with fresh, crisp spinach. It is important to not overcook the spinach, it cooks very quickly.

Heat the ¼ cup of water in a deep frying pan. Put half of the spinach in the pan and cover with a lid for 30 seconds. Stir and cover for another 15 seconds. Repeat if necessary.

When the spinach is just beginning to wilt, remove from the pan and place in a non-metallic bowl. Stir in the remaining spinach, bacon, mushrooms, onions and pine nuts.

Sometimes we also like to add strawberries, pomegranate arils, feta cheese and/or a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. There are endless options for how you can jazz this one up a bit! Let us know what you like to add to your spinach salad!

salmon & spinach salad

crab sushi rolls (1280x362)

california sushi rolls

Warmer weather is finally here! That means it’s time to start making an effort to create dinners and snacks that do not require the oven (and therefore heating up the entire house).

crab sushi rolls to serve (1280x820)Kootenay Spice’s first of many such posts is a tasty California sushi roll made with cucumber, crab and avocado. There are dozens of variations on the California sushi roll. We choose this one because it is simple and relatively easy to make and much easier to eat and dip into sauces. Other variations include wrapping the seaweed on the inside of the roll and slicing the avocado into strips the size of the cucumber. We admit, we use artificial crab meat, which can be replaced with shrimp or scallops.

crab sushi rolls ingredients (1280x1165)

For this recipe you will need:
Sushi rolling mat
1 cup dry sushi rice, rinsed well
1 1/4 cup water
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp white sugar
2 tsp sesame seeds
4 nori seaweed sushi wraps
1 avocado
1 4” section of cucumber
1/2 cup of sliced crab meat

First things first, you need to make your sushi rice. Some people go ahead and use regular white rice, but the sushi rice has a bit of a sticky sweetness that makes the rolls that much better. Soak your cup of rice in water for at least 15 minutes, changing the water regularly. Put the rice into a medium saucepan and stir in the water. Bring the rice & water just to a boil. Stir once, cover and reduce heat to low (as low as your stove will go). Do not stir the rice or lift the lid while it is simmering. Simmer for about 15 minutes, until all of the water has been absorbed. Empty into a non-metallic bowl and using a non-metallic spoon, stir in the rice vinegar, sugar and sesame seeds. Set aside to cool while you prepare the cucumber and avocado.

Peel the cucumber and slice it in half. With a small spoon, scrape the seeds out of the inside of the cuke and slice it into small strips, a little smaller than 1/4”.

Peel the avocado and empty the meat into a bowl. Using a spoon or spatula, squish it into a paste and set aside.

crab sushi rolls filling (1280x897)Now we put together the sushi rolls! You will want to have a small cup of water handy to dip your fingers in to prevent the rice from sticking and to seal each roll closed.

crab sushi rolls prep (1280x939)Lay a seaweed wrap on the rolling mat and cover with 1/4” of rice, leaving about 1” at either end. Save yourself some frustration and grief by dipping your fingers in water and spread the rice with your hands instead of a spoon.

crab sushi rolls rice spread (1280x975)

Spread a layer of the avocado mush over the bottom half of the rice. Add a few strips of cucumber and slices of crab close to the bottom end of the wrap.

crab sushi rolls pre roll (1280x985)

Roll the sushi from the bottom up, keeping it as tight as possible, leaving the 1” of un-riced seaweed exposed. Dip your fingers in the water and run them along the seaweed. Finish the roll by pressing the watered edge against the rest of the roll. Place the roll seam side down on a plate and go on to the next one!

crab sushi rolls mid roll (1280x570)

To serve the sushi, cut the rolls into 1” sections and serve with soy or teriyaki sauce, pickled ginger and wasabi paste. These rolls do not keep well, but can be eaten the next day if you seal them well and put them in the fridge.

crab sushi roll to eat (1280x1088)

And there you have it! Your very own homemade sushi rolls! We hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

measurement conversions

At Kootenay Spice we tend to do a lot of doubling and tripling recipes and reducing recipes by half, a quarter and so on. Knowing some quick and easy measurement conversions comes in very handy when we’re doing this.

masurement conversions

We’ve made this conversion chart and have it posted inside a few cupboard doors in the kitchen. It is useful for dry or wet ingredients and has saved us from a few close calls. Such as at our wedding when we were multiplying recipes by six to ten. A few times we thought we were right about how much of an ingredient to use, but checked the chart and found we weren’t even close!

The conversions that we tend to use most are 5 milliliters in a teaspoon, 3 teaspoons in a tablespoon and 4 tablespoons in a quarter cup. From these 3 basics, plus a little head math, we can come up with a conversion for nearly any amount.

You’ll want to bookmark this page or print out the image and have it handy in the kitchen. You’ll be surprised how useful it can be!

salmon and spinach salad

This is the gourmet lunch we treated ourselves to on Sunday afternoon. Our local grocery store has a to die for fish selection with some amazing prices, and the salmon steaks looked too good to pass up!

salmon & spinach salad

A light coating of olive oil, a sprinkle of our Lemon Garlic Pepper and a few minutes on the grill with a light toping of BBQ sauce at the end resulted in some of the best salmon we have had in years!

We tossed together a delicious hot spinach salad and thoroughly enjoyed our lunch! Don’t worry, we’ll share the recipe for the salad in the near future!

finished egg nest 1

egg nests

Looking for a different and fun way to prepare your eggs for Sunday morning breakfast? Kootenay Spice has the perfect recipe: egg nests! These cute and tasty eggs are both filling and delicious. Normally we eat 2 eggs each with our breakfasts, but one per person is enough with these!

finished egg nests

To make egg nests for 2 people you will need:

2 large eggs
¼ tsp salt
2 Tbsp fresh, grated parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to bake at 450˚F with the rack in the middle.

Separate the yolks from the whites of the eggs. The whites can be combined in a mixing bowl and the yolks in 2 separate, oiled bowls. Take care not to break the yolks and cover with saran wrap to prevent them from drying out.

whisking egg whites 1

whisking eggwhites 2

Now we make meringue with the egg whites. Sprinkle the salt into the egg whites and start whisking. If you have an electric hand mixer, you will definitely want to use it. Start on the slowest setting, increasing every minute or so and whisk until stiff peaks are forming, about 7 – 10 minutes.

whisking eggwhites 3

parmesan on egg

Gently fold in the parmesan cheese. Do not stir in or you will deflate the meringue.

On a parchment paper lined cookie sheet, divide the meringue and cheese mix into 2 mounds (or nests).

empty egg nest

Create a well in the centre of each nest and place in the oven for 3 minutes, until it is just beginning to brown.

cooked egg nest pre yolk

Remove from the oven and very gently place each egg yolk into the centre well of the nests.

half done egg nests

Return to the oven for 3-4 minutes, until the yolks are cooked to your preferred doneness and the nests are nicely browned.

finished egg nests

And there you have it, a fun new way to cook your eggs! You can try it with different hard cheeses like gruyere or romano, but parmesan is by far our favourite! Enjoy!

bacon ranch spaghetti squash cooked

creamy bacon ranch spaghetti squash

Spaghetti is our absolute favourite type of squash to use in the Kootenay Spice kitchen. Not only is it versatile and delicious, it is easy to make too!

We have created a creamy bacon ranch sauce that makes a savoury topping that is fabulous baked with spaghetti squash and anything else you want to try it on!

bacon ranch spaghetti squash ingredients

1 large spaghetti squash
2 cups milk
1.5 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp Kootenay Spice Ranch Dressing Mix
4 strips of bacon
drizzle of olive oil
1 cup shredded cheddar

Cook the bacon in a medium pan. Once cooked, remove the bacon and set the pan aside. Do not drain the bacon drippings; we will use them later to cook the roux. Let the bacon cool and chop into bite size pieces.

cooked spaghetti squash

Preheat your oven to 375˚F. Cut the squash in half lengthwise, remove the seeds and place it cut side down on a baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove and let cool. Once it is cool enough to handle, use a spoon to scrape the meat from the squash into a baking dish. Drizzle lightly with olive oil, mix and set aside.

spaghetti squash in pan

Whisk the Kootenay Spice Ranch Dressing Mix into the milk.

In the pan we used for cooking the bacon, make a roux out of the butter and flour by melting the butter in the pan and whisking in the flour. Continue whisking about 3 minutes, until you can start to smell the flour cooking. Slowly pour in the ranch seasoned milk. Whisk about another 3 minutes, until the sauce starts to thicken. Stir in the bacon pieces.

bacon ranch sauce

Pour the bacon ranch sauce over the spaghetti squash and sprinkle with shredded cheddar.

bacon ranch spaghetti squash oven ready

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the cheese is browning and beginning to bubble.

Let cool at least 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

bacon ranch spaghetti squash cooked

pre cooked eggplant parmesan

eggplant parmesan

We love to try new things in the Kootenay Spice kitchen. This eggplant parmesan was our first attempt at cooking eggplant and we love it! Layered like lasagna, fresh mozzarella, homemade breadcrumbs and our signature marinara sauce make this recipe unique and delicious!

This meal will feed 2-4 people and requires the following:

eggplant parmesan ingredients

1 large eggplant
2 cups marinara sauce
mozzarella, sliced in ¼” slices
parmesan, grated
2 Tbsp olive oil
¾ cup flour
2 cups breadcrumbs
2 eggs, beaten
oil for frying
fresh basil
fresh rosemary
pepper to taste

Preheat the vegetable oil in a deep pan over medium-high heat. Preheat the oven to 400˚F.

sliced eggplant

While the pan and oven are heating, peel your eggplant. The easiest way to do this is cut the ends off and peel with a potato peeler. Slice lengthwise into ½” slices.

eggplant parmesan ingredients

Dip the eggplant in flour, then the egg, then press firmly into the breadcrumbs to coat evenly. Set aside and continue with the rest of the eggplant.

breaded eggplant

Fry the eggplant in batches of 3-4, taking care not to overcrowd your pan. Fry about 2-3 minutes per side, until they are lightly browned.

marinara lined pan

Lightly coat the bottom of a 9×9 baking dish with some marinara sauce.

Place a single layer of eggplant in the pan. Cut them to fit if necessary. Sprinkle on parmesan cheese and add a layer of mozzarella slices. Pour about ½ of the marinara sauce over the cheeses.

parmesan mozzarellapre cooked eggplant parmesan

Add another layer of eggplant, cheeses and the rest of the sauce. Top with basil, rosemary and pepper, followed by a final layer of mozzarella.

cheesed pre cooked eggplant parmesan

Bake about 20-30 minutes, until the cheese is beginning to brown.

finished eggplant parmesan

And there you have it! Fairly simple and very delicious! Once you try it, you will completely understand why it is our favourite way to cook eggplant!

baby bok choy sliced (1024x580)

lemon garlic balsamic baby bok choy

Baby bok choy is a common veggie in the Kootenay Spice kitchen. We enjoy regular-sized bok choy too, but the baby ones are just that much sweeter and richer tasting. Versatile, super healthy and oh so tasty!

lemon garlic balsamic bok choy ingredients (1024x701)

For this dish, we are using two heads of baby bok choy, our reduced balsamic vinegar, Kootenay Spice Lemon Garlic Pepper and olive oil. Super simple and absolutely delicious!

baby bok choy sliced (1024x580)

Chop baby bok choy lengthwise and place in a baking dish. Liberally coat with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, then sprinkle 1 Tbsp of Lemon Garlic Pepper over bok choy. You can go ahead and cook them right away, but they will be even better if you cover your dish and place them in the fridge for at least 1 hour or even overnight.

lemon garlic balsamic bok choy

Preheat your oven to bake at 400˚F. Cook your bok choy for 20-25 minutes, until they are tender.

This delicious side dish also works wonderfully seard over medium-high heat on the BBQ. Once they have marinated, cook the bok choy for about 4 minutes on each side.

Enjoy your lemon garlic balsamic baby bok choy! Let us know which way you like it better, baked or grilled?

lemon garlic balsamic bok choy

reduced balsamic vinegar

Balsamic vinegar is one of our favourite kinds of vinegar to use in many of our Kootenay Spice recipes. Reduced balsamic is sweet and perfect for salad dressing, drizzled on fresh fruit and veggies, dipping bread and so much more.

balsamic finished (1024x535)

Any balsamic vinegar will work when you are reducing it. We are fortunate to have Ferraro Foods, a local grocery store that has a fabulous selection of vinegars, including many balsamics. We use the most economically priced bottle we can find as vinegar quality is less important for reducing. Don’t go using a small, expensive bottle of quality, aged vinegar.

Use at least twice as much vinegar as you want to have in the end, more if you want it thicker and richer in flavour. We used one cup. Reduced vinegar can be kept in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a month. It will thicken while cooled and you can thin it by heating it a bit, or use it as a syrup.

balsamic unreduced (1024x486)

Pour your balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer at least 30 minutes, until it is reduced to your desired amount. Our 1 cup of vinegar reduced to one quarter in about an hour.

balsamic heating (1024x980)

Be sure to watch it closely and stir often. As it thickens, it will be more likely to burn to your pot. Every once in a while, tilt the pot to be sure it is not burning to the bottom. When your vinegar is ready, take it off the heat, pour into a glass bowl and place it in the fridge to cool before using. Remember, it will continue to thicken as it cools.

balsamic reduced (1024x516)

Enjoy your reduced balsamic vinegar. It is also great mixed with a variety of Kootenay Spice flavours like lemon garlic pepper or steak spice, perfect for a marinades. Try it yourself and let us know your favourite way to use it!

Pictured at top of page: lemon garlic balsamic bok choy

finished hand rolled lasagna

hand rolled lasagna

finished hand rolled lasagna

Now that you know how to make your own herb infused noodles with your Kootenay Spice mixes, you need a great recipe to try them with! This rolled lasagna is one of our favourite meals! The pomodoro sauce is amazing and is yet another variation of marinara and tomato/basil sauce that we have come to love on so many dishes!

This recipe will make 8 rolls and feeds 2-4 people.

béchamel

This is a white cheese sauce that starts with a creamy roux. Once this is made, it can be put in the fridge while you are preparing the pomodoro sauce and veggies.

2 Tb margarine or butter
2Tb white flour
½ cup milk or cream
1/3 cup ricotta cheese
1/3 cup drained or dry curd cottage cheese
1 Tb grated parmesan
Salt & pepper to taste

Over low heat, melt the margarine in a pan. Add the flour and whisk until it forms a paste. Slowly add the cream and continue whisking until the milk is completely combined. Cook another 8-10 min, stirring occasionally, until it becomes thick and smooth. Cool in the fridge for 10-15 minutes before stirring in the ricotta, cottage cheese, parmesan, salt & pepper. Cover and place back in the fridge while you continue with the recipe.

pomodoro

Next, we start the pomodoro sauce. This is a super tasty tomato sauce that we will pour over the noodle rolls once they have cooked. While it is cooking, we will prep and cook the lasagna rolls.

1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in halves
3 medium tomatoes, blanched (or 1/2 a can of whole peeled tomatoes)
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/3 cup red wine

In a medium pan, sauté the garlic in the olive oil for a minute, until it begins to soften and become fragrant. Add the tomatoes and let simmer a few minutes to heat. Add the chicken stock, basil and red wine and let simmer on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Render to about half or until you can see the oil begin to turn red.

While the pomodoro sauce is rendering, prepare and cook the lasagna rolls.

lasagna rolls

8 herb infused fresh lasagna noodles
3 Tb olive oil
2 stalks celery, sliced into ¼” slices, approx. 3-4” long
1 red pepper, sliced into ¼” slices
12 pieces blanched asparagus, ends removed & cut in ½
16 ¼” slices mozzarella cheese, approx. 3-4” long
béchamel filling from fridge
½ cup grape tomatoes, sliced in halves
grated parmesan to taste
fresh cracked pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Gently place the noodles into the water and cook for 8 min, stirring occasionally. Run the drained noodles under cold water to stop them from further cooking. Drizzle a bit of oil over the noodles to prevent them from sticking and lay flat on a cookie sheet or clean countertop.

While the water is boiling, prep the veggies. Heat the olive oil over low heat in a medium pan. Stir the celery strips into the oil to coat & let simmer for 4 minutes before adding the red pepper and asparagus. Cook another 4-5 minutes, until the veggies have started to soften but are not fully cooked. Remove from heat and let cool.

Preheat the oven to bake at 350˚F.

Lay one noodle on a clean surface and place about a tablespoon of béchamel in the centre of the noodle. Lay 3 strips of asparagus, 2 strips mozzarella, and 1/8 of the celery and pepper over the béchamel.

filling placement

Fold the noodle in half, over the filling and roll loosely. Place the roll into a lightly oiled baking dish. Repeat for the rest of the noodles and filling. Drizzle olive oil over the finished rolls.

lasagna rolls in pan

Cover the dish with tinfoil and bake for 30 minutes, or until the noodles are tender and the filling is warm.

Place the noodle rolls onto plates and top with the pomodoro sauce, grape tomatoes, grated parmesan and a sprinkle of fresh, chopped basil.

side view of roll

Enjoy your rolled pasta! It is absolutely worth the effort and you’ll hardly be able to wait until you have a chance to make it again!

cooked rolled lasagna

marinara sauce

This is our go-to recipe for pasta, eggs, shrimp, mussels, pizza, lasagna and so much more! So simple and easy to make, you should definitely give it a try next time you need a tomato sauce!

marinara ingredients

½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large can whole peeled tomatoes or 6 blanched & peeled fresh tomatoes
1 cup chicken stock
3-5 cloves fresh garlic, thinly sliced
1/3 cup red wine
2 Tbs dried basil
½ cup chopped fresh basil

Heat olive oil in a large skillet or pot over low to medium heat. Add chopped garlic & sauté 1 minute. Add the red wine and stir for a minute. Add chicken stock, tomatoes and dried basil.

cooking marinara

Continue simmering on medium to low heat, stirring frequently, until reduced to half. For thicker sauces like pizza and lasagna, render it down a little longer.  Stir in basil just before serving. Add pepper if desired. Enjoy!

finished marinara