Saturday, February 26, 2011

Leftover Yogurt

Last week I bought a liter of Kefir yogurt thinking we'd eat it all by this time next week.
Well, saturday is here and after discovering what I had actually bought (a fermented milk drink) sadly we didn't even eat half of it. Silly me. When I bought keffir, I thought I'd return home with something similar to greek yogurt --> thick and rich. Kefir (pronounced Ke-feer) originated in the North Caucasus regions of Russia. It was happened upon accidentally when shepards left fresh milk (either cow, goat or sheep)  in their leather carrying pouches all day. And then, there is a gaping hole in the story. Obviously someone tried it... and thought it tasted good... Because of its fantastic, microbiotic nutritional benefits, people in the region have been making it ever since. It's a wonderful source of folic acid and it aids in lactose digestion. Studies show that it suppresses and increase in blood pressure and it also contains antimutagenic properties that are thought to prevent cancer. Of course, at time time it was invented, people didn't know this information. They might have noticed an improvement in digestive health as well as skin complexion, (plus it gave them a way to avoid throwing out spoiled milk) so the tradition continued. Even Marco Polo guzzled the stuff during his travels through ought the 1200s. Good kefir-making is now a science. Kefir 'grains' are used instead of leather-pouch fermentation. Enough grains to equal 2-10% of the total volume of liquid is added to the milk. The mixture is agitated a few times daily for several days. The longer it ferments, the more sour the taste. (Just like a sourdough starter). The final consistency is like thin yogurt. It's glossier and less milky than heavy cream. You can add it to smoothies, deserts, dips, curries, sauces or just drink it on it's own.
To avoid throwing away my kefir, I made a yummy kefir-honey snack cake. 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Cooking with Claire Merchandise

Donations aren't as much fun as getting an apron in return!
Visit http://www.cafepress.com/CookingwithClaire for custom items I designed. 
A permanent "Tab" will is now visible on the top bar, between "Claire's Fave Dishes" and "About," appropriately titled "Swag."
I hope you enjoy!
Know that a percentage of each sale helps me afford special ingredients for cooking and taking photos and uploading posts. 

   

Any 'swag' ideas are welcome. I'll be designing t-shirts over the next few weeks. 

Monday, February 21, 2011

What's for Dinner? Fried Perogies, Beef Rouladen, Mixed Maple Root Vegetables, Garlic-Braised Kale and Apple-Honey Tart

As an appetizer, the perogies were stuffed with a mash potato/cheese/sauerkraut mixture with a tangy sourcream sauce on the side for dipping.
For the main, small beef rouladens were made from a large round steak I bought at Charles' meats. I stuffed them with caramelized onions and leeks and they cooked all afternoon in a sweet and savory brown sauce (made from a variety of vegetables).
Because everyone voted maple syrup as their favourite Canadian sweetener, I used it as a sauce to add in the last 5 minutes of roasting the root vegetables. They were dressed with sunflower oil, salt and rosemary and slowly roasted in the oven at 400 degrees for and hour and a half. Towards the end, I mixed maple syrup, apple cider and a minced shallot together and glazed the vegetables before popping everything back in the oven. It further enhanced the sweetness of the squash, carrots, rutabaga, parsnips and black winter radish.
Garlicky blanched then sauteed kale served as a nice green accompaniment.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Saturday Farmer's Market Load-Up

 


Again, we are stocked for the week and the fruit-cellar is looking ship shape with the addition of onions, cabbage, parsnips, carrots, rutabagas, beets and black radish.

Friday, February 18, 2011

What's for Dinner? Summery Pasta





For this one, I opened a can on my Nona's spicy pickled vegetables. I made a sauce with the tangy brine, mixed veggies, chicken stock, butter and some other winter vegetables thrown in. Everything simmered for a while and reduced to a sauce consistency. For the family I used a base of penne to carry the flavour, and for myself, I used potatoes (in keeping with the 100-mile thing...) Top with local cheese - yummy!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Hello from We Day KW




Free the Children's  We Day swept through town today and I had the opportunity to go. Fantastic speakers like Al Gore,Jesse Jackson, the Kielburger brothers, and a variety of musical talent and celebrities inspired the region's youth to take action and become the generation to invoke global change. The social justice messages like "one person can make a difference" and "local action for global change" reinforced why I'm doing the 100-mile challenge! Hurray for social justice!
http://www.therecord.com/news/local/article/486466--we-day-wraps-up

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What's for Dinner? My Version of Samosas

Roughly based on this recipe --> http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Pierogi-Potato-and-Mushroom-Sauerkraut-354032 but I coated mine in egg/milk, a seasoned spelt crumb and fried them. The dough was made out of a combination of spelt flour and bread flour. I rolled and cut the dough a 1/16th inch circle to fill and fold over into half moons. Sauteed potato, fresh cabbage, homemade sauerkraut, mushroom, onion and shredded carrot filled the crispy shells. A side of applesauce accompanied the dish for dipping. Apple and cabbage are a natural combination and the smooth sweetness perfectly contrasted the salty crisp of the Samosas.

A Lil' Canning on a Wednesday Afternoon

  

This afternoon I finished making the bushel of apples from our cold cellar into applesauce. I had also started a batch of sauerkraut about 3 weeks ago, which I was finally able to heat process today. As my tolerance for sauerkraut is still building up (I like it in small portions) I cooked it in the cans to mild the strength of taste. In the future I plan on eating it raw because like many other live-culture foods, it has amazing health benefits as a result of the fermentation.

What's for Dinner? Bean/Wheat Berry & Squash Medley with Crunchy Topping

A lovely medley of chewy wheat berries, birds-eye beans, kabocha squash, preserved sweet tomatoes, leeks and garlic. I topped it with crunchy spelt croutons which crumbled under fork and added a salty bite to each mouthful of sweet, chewy deliciousness!

Does this Count?

I was out of town! There was nothing I could do about it. It just kind of.... happened. Anyhow, we didn't really eat it all, so no biggie. Point is, I'm back in town, back on the 100 mile challenge and feeling much better. Poutine (unless made from local potatoes fried to perfection, covered in roast dripping gravy and fresh cheese curds) isn't for me.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Squash Rocks!

- They're versatile
- There are hundreds of varieties
- They are sweet & savory
- They have great texture
- They are very healthy and loaded with vitamins
- They are great at carrying flavours of herbs/spices
- They are a great base, or 'bulker' to many dishes


 

..Just a few of the reasons I love squash so much. This time I made a nice spice blend with some ingredients my family and relatives have brought me from their travels through Africa. Thank goodness for that particular 100 mile rule! I used coriander, cumin, garahm masala, cardamom, salt and chili. I cubed a kabocha squash (with much effort I should add). I used a pestal and mortar to grind the spices and then toasted them in some sunflower oil on a cookie sheet for just a few minutes. I did this to create a paste which would then spread evenly over the chunked squash. I roasted everything for about 40-50 minutes at 400 defrees F. The result was a crispy, caramelized, spicy outer shell with a sweet, soft, squashy inside. And the texture was spot on! Exactly what I wanted. This is the perfect example of how cheap and easy food can become extremely indulgent.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

On to Ottawa...



This week I'm in Ottawa for a few days at anOntario Student Trustee's Association (OSTA) conference. By default, I haven't been able to source local food as much as I would have liked. Long, 10 hour days and mandatory networking events have proved to be a barrier in finding local hot-spots for farm-fresh foods. However, I must say, I'm enjoying my little 'break' from the 100-mile rules I've been following so diligently for about a month and a half now. This isn't to say this is the first time I've had an unavoidable exemption from the rules. The occasional trip out of town or sleepover has had a few 'cheats.' It's lovely to taste ginger again or experience the delicate crisp of phyllo pastry. Local cuisine (especially that which is made in a rush) tends to be bulky and the very opposite of delicate food - especially in the winter! Think porridge, oatmeal, hard-wheat bread, homemade pasta, eggs, squash, potatoes, cabbage, etc. When summer comes around, hopefully this will change. Mom has been understanding and seemed to be very amused when I tasted chocolate for the first time since December. I'm finding that I have a (new) very low-tolerance for sweet foods and rich items. I ate 3 pieces of chocolate and was overwhelmed. I ate a little popcorn and was surprised to taste how salty it was... and not the same saltiness as bakala (salted cod) but a different type of salty - processed salty. In terms of physical differences, I have this feeling of being 'junkie' on this inside... though perhaps this is a mental reaction. I find my skin isn't as clear as it was three days ago, and I've been hitting the gym to chase away the fatigue that I seem to feel inevitably after each restaurant/hotel meal. The minute I hit home again, I'll be back on the 100-mile diet and I think my body will thank me. It's amazing what a difference I feel after just 43 days of the 100-mile challenge! The upside to this whole situation is that, as a province, us student trustees are working to implement programs like the "Bottled-Water-Free" campaign by Development and PeaceDetermined to Develop in Malawi, as well as GSA's (Gay-Straight Alliances) in schools, especially catholic schools to promote equity and inclusion. So my justification is such - my socially just, environmental awareness on the 100-mile diet has been transfered to other socially just, environmental causes, thus balancing the socially just, environmental scale. .....Perhaps a little too analytical, but it helps me ignore the guilt I feel with every bite of non-local food. And anyways, it's not about when you 'cheat' on this challenge, rather the delicious non-local food you get to eat 95% of the time.

Monday, February 7, 2011

You Voted...

This week's foodie poll asked you which squash was your favourite. Classic butternut took the cake, closley followed by "Sweet-Mama." In celebration I cooked up some butternuts for dinner as a side dish. I peeled and cubed them, roasted with sunflower oil, chili and a sprinkle of garahm masala. They were sweet, nutty, spicy, buttery and rich, while still being healthful and packed with vitamins. And a bonus is that they keep so dang long in the cold cellar. I have squash that looked as though they have just been picked... a month after the fact. They are a trooper vegetable in the kitchen!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Generation Y Eating Dillema

I recently wrote an article for Andrew Coppolino, who runs Waterloo Region Eats, a database for food, farmers, restaurants and chefs. If you get a chance, you should check it out. http://www.waterlooregioneats.com/2011/02/generation-y-and-the-wrong-way-to-eat/

Saturday, February 5, 2011

My Favourite Soup

 

Squash, Carrot and Cabbage Soup is possibly the most perfect thing to eat on a cold day! With a mix of ingredients: butternut squash, carrots, potato, onions and an apple all cooked in homemade stock then pureed, and chopped savoy/green cabbage dropped in last minute to simmer (and a splash of cream), this soup is both smooth but with a soft bit of salty cabbage. The flavours of each vegetable combine to make something that tastes totally original and very satisfying. It's sweet, warm winter flavours make me very happy when it's cold outside. I served with homemade sour-dough bread. It was magnificent, made even better by gooey melted cheese!

Friday, February 4, 2011

A Snowy White Dinner

A creamy white bean puree, glazed parsnips and a silky piece of Huron whitefish topped with a garnish of sprouts.

100 Mile Parfait

Local yogurt, homemade applesauce, honey and oats. A simple, but delicious breakfast.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Yummy Winter Stew

What I love about this meal is that it never once tastes the same.
I usually make this towards the end of a week because I will have accumulated all the ingredients to throw into a pot and simmer all afternoon: Chicken broth (made from chicken bones earlier in the week), root vegetables, a bit of stewing beef (I'd say around 20% of the dish) and some herbs/spices.
Change up the meat, stock and types of root veg or seasonal produce and you have a go-to, slow-cooker meal.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Spelt Buttermilk Waffles

This is Martha Stewart's recipe for delicious buttermilk waffles. Frankly, some of the best I've ever had. 
I've adapted the recipe to be 100-mile friendly. 

Ingredients

- 2 cups spelt flour (spooned and leveled)
- 1 tablespoon raw honey
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups low-fat buttermilk
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 2 large eggs
- Local Canola oil or butter, for waffle iron

Directions

Preheat oven to 275 degrees; set a rack on a baking sheet, and place in oven. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together buttermilk, butter, and eggs; add flour mixture, and mix just until batter is combined.

Heat waffle iron according to manufacturer's instructions; brush with oil. Pour batter onto iron (amount depends on iron size), leaving a 1/2-inch border on all sides (spread batter if necessary). Close iron; cook until waffles are golden brown and crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to rack in oven to keep warm; repeat with remaining batter.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Spinach Souffle (Adapted for 100-Miles)

THIS WAS A WONDERFUL DINNER DISH ACCOMPANIED BY SOME ROASTED VEGETABLES AND SOME MEATY MUSHROOMS. IT WOULD ALSO BE NICE AS A LIGHT LUNCH ALL ON ITS OWN. 


ingredients


  • 4    egg yolks
  • 4    egg whites
  • 1/4  cup  butter or margarine
  • 1/4  cup  all-purpose flour
  • pinch of cayenne (I had to use  local ground dried chili) 
  •   Dash  ground red pepper
  • 1  cup  milk
  • 2  cups  shredded cheddar, colby, Havarti, Swiss cheese, etc (8 ounces)
  • 1/2  cup  blanched, drained and chopped fresh spinach (I used hot house spinach from Tevistock) 

directions


1. Allow the egg yolks and egg whites to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
2. For cheese sauce, in a medium saucepan melt butter; stir in flour, Add milk all at once. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat. Add cheese, a little at a time, stirring until melted. In a medium bowl beat egg yolks with a fork until combined. Slowly add cheese sauce to egg yolks, stirring constantly. Cool slightly.
3. In a large mixing bowl beat egg whites with an electric mixer on medium to high speed until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight). Gently fold about 1 cup of the stiffly beaten egg whites into cheese sauce.
4. Gradually pour cheese sauce over remaining stiffly beaten egg whites, folding to combine. Fold in the drained spinach. Pour into an ungreased 2-quart souffle dish.
5. Bake in a 425 degree F oven, then close the door and immediately turn the temperature down to 375 degree F and bake for about 40 minutes or until a knife inserted near center comes out clean. Serve immediately. Makes 4-6 servings.