Summer in Montreal is the Best Thing Ever (ask anyone, they’ll tell you). Barbecues, days in the park, going dancing, camping, hiking, swimming, 5 á 7-ing – it’s undoubtedly the most fun time of the year. We hibernate all (8 months of) winter, watching a lot of movies and TV, going out less, and shivering under blankets, and in doing so, we save up the energy to make the most of the three, maybe four months of warmth that we get.
Summer is when the best food comes out. Tortilla chips and guacamole made with happy avocados and tomatoes, sleeves of oreos, caprese salads, wine, beer, grilled burgers, ribs, steaks and sausages, homemade cookies, late-night poutine- it’s wonderful.
I often try to justify the very junky indulgences of the summer with “but look how much we walked today!” and “dancing around in living rooms is amazing exercise!” and “we hiked two weeks ago!” However, I’ve found lately that I enjoy the indulgences of evenings and weekends more if I’ve eaten a little bit healthier throughout the work week.
It’s all about balance, right? I try to cook lots of healthy food for the week on Sundays and Mondays and throw everything into jars and tupperwares. It lasts all through the week until Friday, when I let fun take the reins again.
Here’s what I ate this week.
Sheet Pan Chicken Tikka. This very simple recipe worked super well with boneless, skinless chicken thighs. I made the garlicky, gingery spiced yogurt marinade and let it all sit for 2 hours before baking. I baked the chicken at 425 for 30 minutes (boneless chicken cooks much faster than bone-in). Even though I had to face my massive, powerful aversion to yogurt, the chicken came out flavorful, spicy, and so tender. We ate it with plain brown rice or with Mujaddara (see below).
Pad Thai-Style Salad. The recipe is originally called “no-noodle Pad Thai,” but I don’t like to think about it that way (because obviously noodles are the best part of Pad Thai). Look at it like a very flavourful crunchy salad. You can use a spiralizer on the carrots and daikon if you have one, but I don’t and I still live a full, productive life. Just cut everything into as thin strips as you can. As they marinate in the dressing they’ll wilt but stay crunchy. Gotta love those root veggies!! I kind of improvised the dressing- I used twice as much garlic and ginger as recommended, and added plenty of fish sauce, sesame oil, the juice of 2 limes, extra rice wine vinegar and some Sriracha. Just keep adding stuff until you want to eat the dressing with a spoon.
Hawaiian Marinated Flank Steak. The pineapple juice-based marinade makes even the cheapest of steaks taste delicious. You don’t need to use store-bought teriyaki sauce as the recipe says- just mix the pineapple juice with soy sauce, add extra ginger and garlic, Sriracha, and the juice of half a lime. Marinate overnight and cook the steaks on high heat to sear on both sides- I set off my fire alarm and had to open all the windows- and then set it to medium-low and cook to your desired doneness.
Mujaddara. This amazing Lebanese dish is cheap to make and so tasty. It’s basically equal parts caramelized onion : brown rice : lentils cooked with lots of spices, broth and aromatics. I added some sliced mushrooms and larger quantities of garlic and spices than the recipe asked for. It goes super well with a salad or some leftover chicken.
Nouilles de Lanzhou. I finally was able to drag ten of my friends to this amazing hand-pulled noodle restaurant in Chinatown. Most of us ordered the classic spicy beef soup with Lanzhou noodles. We each picked different widths and shapes of noodles and added extra black vinegar and chili oil to the massive bowls of soup. We watched the amazing noodle-making man expertly pull the noodles for ten minutes on our way out of the restaurant.
Drinks at Le Mal Necessaire. After the noodles, we hobbled our broth-filled bellies up the street to Le Mal Necessaire, a very fun tiki bar that makes truly outstanding drinks. The wonderful waiters shuffled a section around so we could all sit together. I ordered the special- called The Missionary’s Downfall- which had rum, pineapple juice, rinquinquin, mint, and ginger. Not too sweet, it was perfect and refreshing. All their drinks are tropical, balanced, and just amazing. The music was great too.
Brown Butter Salted Caramel Snickerdoodles. These cookies were the perfect thing to bring to the two potluck barbecues that were on the agenda for Saturday. Doubling the recipe (though always risky with baking) turned out super well.
Pancakes. The only way to do Sunday. This is my favourite recipe for pancakes. It took me years to find the perfect one, and they come out perfect every time. They don’t require anything except true pantry basics, and you don’t have to whip egg whites or use buttermilk. I LOVE IT! Also, we broke in a new cast-iron griddle which is why they look so beautiful.