Archive for Summer Mains

Cherry Tomato Tarts

These days at #5 we seem to be eating cherry tomatoes 24/7. I’ve been wanting to make these tarts all summer and finally did! And are we glad I did…they were so good! Whipped up a green salad…dinner! You can easily double the recipe to make 8 servings. The best time to make this is in the summer with outdoor grown cherry tomatoes…I used Sungolds (my desert island tomato) and Sweet 100’s.

Makes 4 (4”) Tarts

For the Tarts:

1 batch pie dough, Version 2,  using 2 cups unbleached flour & 1 cup whole-wheat flour.  Roll the leftover scraps into a ball & freeze to use later.

dsc_3054-nx2Generous 1 ½ cups of yellow & red cherry tomatoes
Scant 1 ½ Tbsp. Kosher salt
1 ½ cups diced onion
3 Tbsp. EVOO + extra for drizzling or brushing the tomatoes
1 ½ Tbsp. Dijon mustard
¾ cup grated Gruyere cheese, not packed down
Freshly ground black pepper

Garnish: 8 Pitted black olives (I used Italian sun-dried, which worked out very well), cut in half.
Fresh basil leaves, rolled up and sliced chiffonade fashion

Make the Tarts:

Roll out the dough approx. 1/8” thick. Using a small plate (like a bread & butter plate), that’s approximately 1” larger than the widest part of the tart pans, cut out circles, using a thin-bladed knife. Fit the pastry into lightly floured tart pans & fold over the excess so that the sides are thicker that the bottoms.  Trim off any excess by rolling the rolling pin across the top of each tart.

Place the pastry-lined tart pans onto a rimmed baking sheet. Prick all over with a fork & chill for at least 1 hour.   You could do this the day before you want to bake the tarts.

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Remove the tart shells from the fridge. Cover each with a round of baking parchment & fill with either pie weights or dried beans. Place in the oven & bake for 15 – 20 minutes, or until they are lightly coloured. Remove the pie weights & parchment, return to the oven & bake for an additional 10 minutes or until the sides & tops of the crusts are slightly golden. Remove from the oven, place on a cooling rack & cool to room temperature.

In the meantime, cut the cherry tomatoes in half. Place in a colander set over a bowl & sprinkle with the salt. Allow the tomatoes to drain for 1 hour, shaking slightly now and again.

In a frying pan over medium to medium-low heat, cook the onion in 3 Tbsp. EVOO until transparent & soft, stirring often, approximately 5 – 10 minutes. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Divide the Dijon mustard between the tart shells & spread on the bottoms with a brush; add the grated cheese & top with the onions. Place the drained tomatoes onto a double thickness of paper towels, to absorb a bit of the excess moisture, then arrange them on top of the onions. Either drizzle or brush the tops of the tomatoes with EVOO &  grind a bit of freshly ground pepper over top.

Place the tarts back onto the rimmed baking sheet & return them to the 400 F oven for 15 – 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden & the cheese is melted.

Remove tarts from the oven & allow them to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

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Lasagne With Turkey Bolognese Sauce

Who doesn’t love a good lasagne?  The Turkey Bolognese Sauce is rich, aromatic and delicious!

DSC_7050 nx21 batch Turkey Bolognese Sauce**

1 (15 oz.) container whole-milk ricotta cheese
3 cups (packed) coarsely grated whole-milk mozzarella cheese
1 ¼ cups freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, divided
16-20 sheets no-boil lasagne noodles (approx. 7×3”), Barilla’s are pretty good
Fresh basil

Make the Lasagne:

Combine the ricotta, mozzarella, 1 cup Parmigiano & ½ cup basil in medium bowl; stir to blend. Season with salt & freshly ground black pepper.

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Spread 1 cup of the sauce over the bottom of a 13 x 9 x 2” glass or ceramic baking dish. Cover with 4 noodles, arranging crosswise; drop ¼ of the cheese mixture over the noodles by tablespoonfuls; spread out as much as possible. Top with 1 more cup of sauce, then 4 noodles & 1/3 of the remaining cheese mixture. Repeat the layers 2 more times using 1 cup sauce, 4 noodles & ½ of the remaining cheese mixture. Spread remaining sauce over top of noodles & sprinkle with ¼ cup Parmigiano.

Cover the lasagna with a sheet of baking parchment (prevents cheese sticking), and tightly cover with tin foil. Bake about 50 minutes. Let stand 15 – 20 minutes before serving.

To make the Turkey Bolognese Sauce, click here.

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Stuffed Peppers

You just can’t help but love the colours of bell peppers! So cheery! I call for ground veal but I don’t see why ground turkey, ground pork or ground beef would not be just as delicious.  A nice big spoonful of tomato sauce with herbs is just the ticket!

DSC_7090 nx2Makes 4 Peppers

2 each orange & red bell peppers, or red & green peppers
1 lb. ground veal
2 Tbsp. EVO + extra for drizzling
1 medium onion, chopped fine
4 oz. mushrooms, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
½ tsp. dried oregano or 1 ½ tsp. fresh, chopped
½ tsp. dried basil, or 1 ½ tsp. fresh, chopped
1 Tbsp. finely chopped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
Chicken stock to moisten**
1 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup dried fine breadcrumbs**
¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
½ tsp. salt & ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Tomato Sauce With Herbs, made with 1/2 cup chopped onions, sautéed until soft in EVOO before adding the remaining ingredients (see below)

Note:  You can substitute all rosemary for the oregano & basil if you like

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

While the water is coming to the boil, remove the tops & shoulders of the peppers. Remove the cores. When the water comes up to boil, add the peppers, submerging them completely, for 2 minutes. Remove from the water & drain on paper towels.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat; add the EVOO & heat until hot. Sauté the onions until soft; add the mushrooms, sauté for 2 minutes; add the veal, breaking up lumps with a fork & cook until no longer pink. Add the garlic & continue to sauté for 2 minutes, then add the herbs. Remove from the heat & cool for 15 minutes. Whisk the egg & add to the cooled meat mixture along with the breadcrumbs, 2 Tbsp. chicken stock to moisten, & 1/4 cup of the Parmigiano; season with the salt & pepper. Stuff the peppers with the mixture; place the stuffed peppers into a deep baking dish, just large enough to accommodate the peppers. Sprinkle a little EVOO on each one & bake in the oven for 45 minutes or until nicely browned on top.  Serve with the Tomato Sauce  spooned over top & a sprinkle the remaining Parmigiano on each pepper.  If you just happen to have some basil oil hanging about, a drizzle of that would be nice!

The peppers are very good served with tomato sauce, click  Tomato Sauce With Herbs.

If you would like to make your own stock, click Making Stock.

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Cobb Salad

This is my adaptation of the famous salad.   I absolutely adore Cobb Salad.   From the tang of the blue cheese to the creamy avocado, crunchy lettuce, salty bacon, delicious!  Serve with homemade biscuits** or purchased rolls.  Thinking of starting a “Cobb Salad Club” for everyone I know who loves this salad as much as I do!

Makes 4 – 6 Main Course Servings

Make the Dressing:

You may need to increase the dressing if you are making recipe for 6 people.

DSC_0718.jpg nx23 Tbsp. red-wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 Tsp. Dijon mustard
1 small garlic clove, minced
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. sugar
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
½ cup EVO

Whisk together all dressing ingredients, except oil, in a bowl, then very slowly whisk in oil in a thin stream, until emulsified. Or you can do this in a food processor. If you like you can make the dressing 1 hour ahead and store in the fridge until needed.

Make the Salad:

3 skinless, boneless, chicken breast halves (1 ¼ lbs.)
2 ripe avocados
1 head romaine lettuce, cut crosswise into ½” slices
6 bacon slices, cooked until crisp, drained & finely chopped
18 – 24 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 – 4 oz. blue cheese or Roquefort cheese, crumbled
2 – 3 large eggs, hard-boiled, each egg cut into 4 wedges
(opt.) 1 bunch watercress, leaves removed from coarse stems
¼ cup finely chopped fresh chives or green onions

Bring 5 cups of water to a simmer in a large saucepan, add chicken & simmer, covered 6 minutes. Remove pan from heat & cover; let stand until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate to cool completely. This can be done the day before. (You can use leftover chicken breast if you have any, say from a roast chicken). Cut the chicken into 1/2” cubes. Halve, pit & peel avocados. If you rinse them with cold water, they won’t darken for some time. Cut the avocados into slices.

Divide the romaine (& watercress if using) between 4 – 6 dinner plates. Top with the chicken, arrange the avocado slices, egg wedges & cherry tomato halves decoratively around the plate. Sprinkle with the bacon and garnish with chives or green onions.

Serve the salad, passing the dressing.

If you would like to see how to microwave bacon, click Cooking Bacon in the Microwave.

If you would like to make biscuits, click Biscuits.

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Masala Lamb Meatballs

For a printer friendly version of this recipe, click here.

I stumbled upon this recipe by Jennifer Danter in the February EAT MAGAZINE and thought “we like meatballs a lot and we like Indian food a whole lot”…sounds good to me. It calls for serving the meatballs with polenta…in my mind, not a great combination. I served it with basmati rice but next time, I think it will be great with grilled naan bread. She also suggests broiling the meatballs. I did…boy was my oven a mess! So…next time 425F oven for me or even browning on top of the stove but making sure I use my spatter guard!

Makes 4 – 6 Servings

For the Masala (Sauce):

DSC_1766 nx23 garlic cloves, chopped
1 medium onion, cut into chunks
1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 Tbsp. cumin seeds
28 oz. tin plum tomatoes
1 Tbsp. garam masala (see below for link to recipe)
1 tsp. turmeric
½ – 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. sea salt
1 cup water

For the Meatballs:

2 green onions, chopped into ½” pieces
2 egg yolks
1 slice white bread, crusts trimmed, torn into small pieces
¼ cup creamo or light cream
2 lbs. ground lamb
1 tsp. each fennel seeds & ground cumin
½ tsp. each ground cinnamon & sea salt

Garnish: fresh mint & Feta cheese (optional)

Make the Masala:

In a food processor, whirl the garlic cloves, chopped onion & grated fresh ginger until well chopped & almost pureed. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven set over medium heat; add cumin seeds. Heat until they start to sizzle, then add the onion mixture. Stir often until mixture softens & is translucent. Reduce the heat to medium-low to prevent browning, if needed. This may take 8 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, puree canned plum tomatoes (I just chopped them up and squished them with my hands) with the garam masala, turmeric & salt (add the amount of cayenne you are using too). Pour into the pan with the onions; stir in water. Simmer 20 minutes to blend flavours. If making ahead, cover & refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 3 months.

Make the Meatballs:

Makes between 18 & 20 Meatballs

In a food processor whirl the chopped green onions, 2 egg yolks, bread & the creamo until well pureed. Turn into a large bowl & add the ground lamb, fennel seeds, ground cumin, cinnamon & salt. Gently mix until blended, shape into balls, aiming for a chubby golf ball size.

Space the meatballs out on a baking sheet brushed with oil or sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Bake in a preheated 425F oven for about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven. Reduce the oven to 375F. Using a slotted spoon, add the meatballs to the sauce in the Dutch oven; cover & bake until sauce is bubbly & meatballs are cooked through, approximately 15 minutes or so.

Garnish with the mint & feta if you wish.

For the recipe for garam masala, click here.

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Phyllis’ Fish

Do you, like us, end up buying a box of Panko crumbs from Costco that seems like a lifetime supply?  Then…you will totally get our obsession to use them! We were in the mood for some Chinese Shiitake fried rice last night and really craving some fish to go with it. We picked up some B.C. Rockfish from Finest at Sea, for my source list click here, and it turned out, all golden brown, crispy and crunchy…won’t be long before we make it again! Oh…and we served it with the red chili sauce I use for my awesome coconut prawns and some Sriracha Mayo too, but tartar sauce is also wonderful with the fish.   I’m kind of thinking the fish might make a great little appy cut into smaller pieces…

DSC_9567 nx21 lb. fresh Rockfish or cod

For the Marinade:

2 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. finely grated fresh ginger
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

For Breading the Fish:

2 large eggs
2 cups Panko crumbs, approximately
¼ cup unbleached flour, approximately
¾ cup vegetable oil for frying

To finish the fish: sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Combine the soy sauce, ginger & pepper in a large glass dish. Cut the fish into approximately 3” pieces & place in the soy marinade for 30 minutes.

Place the eggs in a shallow glass dish & beat to blend. Place the Panko crumbs on a large piece of wax paper & place the flour on another piece of wax paper.

Place the oil in a large frying pan & heat on medium-high heat. Place a few layers of paper towels on a rimmed baking sheet & set aside.

When the fish is marinated, dip the pieces into the flour, shaking off any excess, then into the beaten egg, allowing excess to drip back into the dish, then dip into the Panko crumbs, pressing to adhere if necessary. Carefully lower each piece of fish into the hot oil & fry until golden brown on either side, about 3 minutes per side, until cooked through. Remove the cooked fish to the paper towel lined baking sheet, sprinkle very lightly with the sea salt & pepper, place on a warm serving platter & serve immediately.

For the Sriracha Mayo:

Mix together, to taste, some mayonnaise (lite is fine), Sriracha sauce, a bit of freshly grated white pepper, freshly squeezed lime juice, finely grated fresh ginger & a bit of cilantro if you wish.

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Turkey and Eggplant Pastitsio

For a printer friendly version of this recipe, click here.

When we get a craving for Greek food in the fall and winter, there’s only one thing to be done, either Pastitsio (sort of a Greek macaroni and cheese) or moussaka …this is the macaroni and cheese favourite. The sauce can easily be made a day or two ahead and that’s what I do. I adapted the recipe from an old “Gourmet” magazine. You can use lamb, beef or veal but I wanted to “lighten” things up!

Makes 6 – 8 Servings

DSC_1715 nx2For the Turkey Sauce:

1 large onion, chopped
2 Tbsp. EVOO
1 lb. ground turkey
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried oregano, crumbled
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. pepperoncino (chili flakes)
¼ tsp. sugar
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. eggplant, cut into ½” cubes
28 – 32 oz. tin crushed tomatoes

For the Cheese Sauce:

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. unbleached flour
2 cups homogenized milk
1 garlic clove, lightly crushed
1 whole garlic clove
½ lb. Greek feta cheese, crumbled, preferably Dodonis
¼ to ½ tsp. salt, or to taste
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs, room temperature, beaten

For the Pasta:

10 oz. penne or ziti

Butter or spray with non-cooking spray a 3 quart baking dish & set aside.

Place the cubes of eggplant into a colander & salt with approximately 2 tsp. salt. Set the colander over a bowl to catch any drips & allow to stand up to 1 hour.

Heat approximately ¼ cup EVOO in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. In the meantime rinse the eggplant with cold water & drain on a large kitchen towel, pressing out any water. When the oil is hot/shimmering but not smoking, saute half the eggplant. When it is golden/lightly browned, remove to a rimmed baking sheet that has been lined with a few layers of paper towels. Remove the eggplant from the pan onto the paper towels with a spider or slotted spoon & saute the remaining eggplant in the same way. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool. Wipe clean when cool and use to make the turkey sauce.

Make the Turkey Sauce:

Saute the onion in EVOO over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened, 5 minutes or so. Raise the heat to medium-high & dd the turkey, saute, stirring & breaking up lumps until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, saute a minute or so add the peperoncino stir for 30 seconds then add the salt, oregano, cinnamon, sugar & pepper & saute, stirring for 2 minutes. Stir in the eggplant & tomatoes & gently simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Remove lid & simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened, about 15 minutes longer; season with salt & pepper to taste.

Preheat the oven to 425 F.

Make the Cheese Sauce & Cook the Pasta:

While turkey sauce is simmering, make cheese sauce & cook the pasta.

If turkey sauce has been done ahead, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add 1 – 2 Tbsp. salt then the pasta and cook until al dente or a couple of minutes less than when it is fully cooked. Drain & set aside.

Make the cheese sauce by melting butter in a 2 qt. heavy saucepan over moderate heat, then stir in flour & cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk, add the garlic & the clove & bring to a boil, still over moderate heat. Reduce heat & simmer, whisking occasionally, for 5 minutes OR…see my microwave method for doing this bit.

Remove the garlic & the clove; add the feta, salt & pepper & cook, whisking well, until cheese is well incorporated. Gradually whisk the cheese sauce into the eggs by tablespoonfuls.

Toss half the pasta with the turkey sauce & the remaining half of the pasta with the cheese sauce.

Assemble the Pastitsio:

Pour the pasta with turkey sauce into the prepared baking dish. Spoon the pasta with cheese sauce over top, spreading evenly.

Bake pastitsio, uncovered, in middle of preheated oven until bubbling & top is golden, 25 – 30 minutes. Let stand at least 5 minutes before serving.

**To see how do make the base for the cheese sauce in the microwave, click here.

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“Jerk” Pork Chops

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Barbecued these last night and we agreed; these are very, very good and easy to make. Mix up some Jamaican drinks, kick back and dream of those island breezes! You can easily increase the recipe too.

Makes 2 Servings.

DSC_1133 nx2(2) ¾ – 1” thick pork chops
¼ cup chopped onion
½ small clove garlic
1 tsp. dried thyme, crumbled
1 tsp. Muscavado sugar, or other brown sugar
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Fresh chili (use the type & amount you feel comfortable with), the rub should have some heat
½ tsp. ground allspice
1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1 – 2 tsp. cooking oil

Prepare the barbecue.

Mince & mash onion to a coarse paste with garlic, thyme, sugar, salt & spices with the flat side of a chef’s knife, place in a small bowl, stir in the oil. Pat pork chops dry & rub the jerk paste all over them. Grill the chops 5 minutes on the first side, then 4 – 5 minutes on the second side, until cooked medium well.

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Chiles Rellenos

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Besides growing artichokes, Donna (Glen Valley Artichokes), also sells a number of other hard to find, locally grown things such as borlotti beans and fantastic poblano peppers. The coating is a lot simpler than the traditional egg yolk, beaten egg white one. You can add a bit of Monterey Jack cheese and serve with a dollop of sour cream if you wish too! You will have leftover picadillo but not to worry, I have suggestions for that! This is definitely one of our favourite late summer meals. The chiles are nice served with Arroz Rojo, a tomato based Mexican rice containing carrots, peas and corn.

Serves 4 – 6 People

For the Chiles Rellenos

DSC_8797 nx24 – 6 large poblano chilies, charred, skins removed**
1 batch of my picadillo**
2 large eggs, beaten
Unbleached flour for dredging
Stoneground cornmeal for dredging
(opt.) grated Monterey Jack cheese
Canola or other cooking oil

Garnish: cilantro leaves or chopped cilantro, sour cream

Enchilada Sauce (makes 3 cups but you can easily cut the recipe in half)

3Tbsp. EVOO
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried oregano, preferably Mexican oregano
3 Tbsp. chili powder
1 ½ cups tinned crushed tomatoes with added puree or
1 ½ cups tinned tomatoes, chopped then crushed by hand
1 ½ cups low-salt chicken broth, or homemade stock**
5 Tbsp. tomato paste

Warm the oil in a saucepan; add the garlic, oregano & chili powder; stirring for a minute. Add the crushed tomatoes, stock & tomato paste; bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer & simmer for 15 minutes or until slightly thickened; season to taste with salt. Set aside until ready to reheat when ready to serve the chiles rellenos. Thin the sauce with additional stock if required & adjust seasoning.

Make the Chiles Rellenos

Heat ¼” to ½” oil in a large frying pan to 365 F. I always use my electric frying pan, it works great & I don’t have to test the oil to make sure it’s the right temperature.

Make a slit in each chili, then carefully remove the seeds, rinsing under cold water as necessary, drain them on paper towels. Fill each chili with spoonfuls of the picadillo & some grated cheese, if using, being careful not to overfill them. Place the flour & the cornmeal on plates. Dip a chili in the flour, then into the beaten eggs & then roll in cornmeal to coat.

Once the oil is at the right temperature, carefully lower each stuffed chile into the oil; fry until golden brown on one side then gently turn over & fry the other side until it’s golden brown. Remove to a paper towel lined baking sheet to drain.

Place a few spoonfuls of the enchilada sauce on each plate & top with a chile rellenos.

**Suggestions for using leftover picadillo: makes fantastic empadas. I also make a taco salad with the mixture, topping with grated cheese, avocado, thinly sliced jalapenos, a few black olives, sour cream & salsa & serve with some corn chips for scooping. It also makes a great little appetizer put into phyllo cups & topped with guacamole, sour cream & some cherry tomato & cilantro. The picadillo freezes beautifully too!  Click here for the link to the crust for empadas & here for phyllo cups (see bottom of page.)

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Anne’s Pineapple Shrimp Salads

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This recipe is in homage to the lady who hired me to take over at the executive dining room of a major Canadian bank, when she retired two years later. This salad was always welcomed at the luncheons there, especially after Christmas and New Year’s pig-outs! It is very refreshing and really good. I particularly like to serve biscuits with this salad. Click on the links at the bottom of the recipe for two of my favourite biscuit recipes.

Makes 4 – 6 Servings

DSC_8695 nx2For the Salad:

1 to 1 ½ lbs. cooked shrimp
2 medium sized pineapples (the “Gold” ones are the sweetest)
2 heads butter lettuce; red butter lettuce would be very colourful

Make The Dressing:

1 cup canola oil or other light tasting oil
6 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice, or more to taste
1 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. sugar
¾ tsp. grated fresh ginger, or more to taste
¾ cup mayonnaise (Hellman’s light is fine)
1 ½ Tbsp. ketchup (4 ½ teaspoons)
¼ tsp. Dijon mustard
1/8 to ¼ tsp. Tabasco
1/8 tsp. freshly ground white pepper

Garnish: 2 lemons cut into 8 wedges each,
cilantro, flat-leaf parsley, green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal

Combine the oil, lemon juice, paprika, sugar & ginger in a jar & shake well. Place the shrimp into a large bowl. Pour half the dressing over & marinate in the fridge for an hour to blend the flavours. In a medium-sized bowl whisk together the remaining dressing, mayonnaise, ketchup, Dijon mustard, Tabasco & white pepper; put aside in the fridge until ready to assemble the salads.

Remove the skin from the pineapples; quarter & remove the cores. Cut the pineapple into bite sized cubes. Tear the lettuce into pieces & arrange on individual dinner plates. Arrange the pineapple cubes in a mound on top of the lettuce; drain the shrimp & place on top of the pineapple cubes. Either drizzle with the dressing or pass dressing separately. Garnish with cilantro or flat-leaf parsley, green onions & lemon wedges.

**I particularly like this salad with Anne’s bran biscuits but my homemade buttermilk biscuits are equally good.

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