Dinner without a kitchen? No problem

April is the season for revitalization. After 23 years of hard use, my kitchen is being renewed. Sounds great, right? But it means two weeks without access to a kitchen (not to mention the mess in the rest of the house.)

I know this is not new to many of you home renovators but it strikes terror into my soul, or more accurately, my stomach. Yes, you can do take-out – but two weeks? After some thought, I realized you could set up a makeshift bathroom/kitchen complete with basic dishes, microwave, kettle and toaster. Then the recipe developer in me started to create. This is the result. Hope these basic recipes will help any of you who may be thinking of renovating.

Maple glazed salmon

The microwave does a great job of cooking fish. It could be done equally well in a foil package on a barbecue. It’s delicious served with couscous and a green salad tossed with your new favourite vinaigrette (recipe follows).

My favourite fish store is Seaport Merchants at the northeast corner of St. Clair and Victoria Park. Call ahead to have your order ready (416-755-9960). If you prefer, substitute trout or halibut.

4 boneless, skinless salmon fillets

1/4 cup (50 mL) maple syrup
1 tbsp (15 mL) Dijon mustard
1 tbsp (15 mL) soy sauce
1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon or lime juice

Using the microwave, arrange salmon fillets on a round plate in spoke fashion around the plate.

Sauce: In mixing bowl, whisk together maple syrup, mustard, soy sauce and lemon juice. Spoon sauce evenly over fillets. Cover with waxed or parchment paper. Microwave on high five to seven minutes. Let stand five minutes or until opaque. Serve immediately with couscous and salad. Serves four.


Although couscous is served as a grain, it is actually a pasta – miraculously, a pasta that is ready in minutes!

1 cup (250 mL) couscous
1 ½ cups (375 mL) boiling water (use a kettle to heat the water)
1/2 cup (125 mL) diced red pepper
1/4 cup (60 mL) finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 tbsp (15 mL) butter
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
1/4 tsp (1 mL) fresh black pepper

In a mixing bowl combine couscous, boiling water, red pepper, parsley, butter, salt and pepper. Cover with a plate and let stand five minutes. Water should be absorbed. Fluff with a fork and cover with plate to keep warm until ready to serve.

Mixed greens with lemon vinaigrette

Use your favourite mixed greens with this meal. (Thank goodness for those pre-washed greens in boxes, whatever did we do before?) My favourite additions: toasted almonds, sliced strawberries, mango, and blueberries, not to mention cucumber and sliced seedless green grapes.

8 cups (2 L) mixed greens
2 cups (500 mL) your favourite additions

Lemon Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup (50 mL) each, fresh lemon juice and vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp (30 mL) liquid honey
1 tbsp (15 mL) Dijon mustard
1 tsp (5 mL) salt
1/4 tsp (1 mL) black pepper

In a large salad bowl, mix greens and your additions. In small jar or food processor, combine lemon juice, oil, garlic, honey, mustard, salt and pepper. Shake vigorously to combine or puree and pour over salad just before serving. Toss well to combine. Serves four generously.

Roast chicken

A supermarket roast chicken is a wonderful mainstay for emergencies. One night dine on legs and wings served with good bread and a salad. Reserve the breast meat for the following meal:

Chicken Salad with Grapes and Almonds

This delicious salad is a complete meal served with a warm baguette.

2 chicken breasts, torn into bite-sized pieces
1 cup (250 mL) each, sliced celery and halved green grapes
1/2 cup (125 mL) each, diced red pepper and toasted almonds
Vinaigrette: See previous recipe

In mixing bowl, combine chicken, celery, grapes, red pepper and almonds. Toss with vinaigrette and serve with warm bread. Makes four servings.


Jan Main is an author, cooking instructor and caterer  ~  janmainskitchen@yahoo.ca

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