Monday, December 29, 2014

Sunrise Smoothie

Persimmons start popping up at the farmer's market and grocery store this time of year. They are delicate and sweet in flavour. Fuyu persimmons (short and squat like a tomato) can be eaten when they are still firm. Hachiya persimmons, on the other hand, must be eaten when they feel like a water-balloon in your hands. If not, they will taste bitter and soapy. Either variety is ideal for this smoothie. Should you use the firmer kind, remember to balance it out with ingredients that will make the drink just as creamy - perhaps 1/4 of an avocado. 

- 1 very ripe persimmon 
- 1 very ripe frozen banana
- 1/2 a mango 
- small chunk of grated ginger 
- 1/2 scoop any vanilla protein powder
- 1/2 tbs psyllium husk 
- 1/4 avocado *optional
- stevia to taste 
- water 
- lots of ice 

Blend everything together. Voila! 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Orange Angel-Cake with Orange Syrup

What does one do when their place of employment sends them home with 12 leftover egg whites? (I know, awesome right?! Best job ever). ...Making large batches of creme brulee has a way of really screwing with one's morning omelet plans. The answer? Angel food cake! Except, I wanted to amp up the flavour and make the whole dessert orange scented, orange flavoured, and oozing with orange-y syrup. I made a standard angel food cake with a meringue, cake flour, sugar, vanilla, cream of tartar, but with the addition of orange zest. When it was hot out of the oven, I poked it violently with a knife. It was an angel-cake massacre. I then poured over a simple syrup I had made while it was baking: fresh orange juice, water, sugar, and a hint of peppermint extract. Reduce all of those ingredients in a pan until it forms a glossy, thicker liquid. The syrup will soak into all of the cake wounds and make things extra tasty. Pop it onto a cake platter and top the cake with orange segments, and any seasonal fruit. It's the holiday season so I opted for pomegranate. This cake will be a special finish to a girl's night in. It better go well with red wine...

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Green Smoothie

I challenge anyone to come up with a better green smoothie! In an effort to out-do my boyfriend's rather fantastic version, I have perfected my own magical green sludge. It's packed with everything nutritious and uplifting, which is much appreciated during school's exam season. I drink one every morning, followed by a few cups of water. It doubles as a phenomenal meal-replacement too, if work leaves me pinched for time. One of these per day, for two months, and I can report how much whiter my eyes have become, along with stronger nails, softer skin (even in the dead of winter), etc. ...Of course, green smoothies work in combination with a clean diet, and natural moisturizers like coconut oil. They are definitely an acquired taste - and might as well be made in a bubbling cauldron because they're one ingredient short of "eye of goat" - but super yummy once you get into the routine.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Souped-Up Hummus

Once or twice a week I will make a large batch of hummus to store in the fridge, for use in lunches and snacks on busy days. Eat it on its own with vegetables, smear it into the stalk of romaine leaves and roll it up like a tortilla, use a dollop as a garnish on vegetarian dishes, or water it down into a dressing for salads. I love the traditional chickpea, tahini, lemon, corriander, olive oil, salt and pepper combo, but lately I've been tossing other ingredients in to make things interesting. Add one or two of these to the basic recipe for a twist: cinnamon, sundried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, feta cheese, fresh basil, garahm masala/cumin, cooked beets (to dye it purple), roasted garlic, avocado, thai chili paste, olives, greek yogurt, artichoke hearts, lime (instead of lemon), chipolte peppers and their adobo sauce, hemp seeds, etc.

Healthy Mint Chocolate-Chip "Ice Cream"

In a food processor combine: 2 frozen bananas, 1/2 scoop of vanilla whey powder or what I use, 1/2 tsp peppermint extract, 1 tsp spirulina (for colour), a sprinkle of cacao nibs, a few drops of stevia, and a pinch of salt. Blend until smooth, with little pieces of chocolate left, and eat like a soft-serve yogurt. If you want to get technical and scoop your attempt-at-junk-food into a pretty bowl, pop the mixture in to the freezer for 15 minutes before serving. If you can't find cacao nibs, use another natural, dark type of chocolate. I've heard of a similar recipes being made with durian, a pungent tropical fruit, and that would result in a much more decadent dessert. If you have access to a durian, and can handle the smell, by all means go for it! I love the stuff, as you can see from my adventures in Thailand here, but am limited to Canadian winter produce. Nevertheless, this is a really tasty treat, and funky alternative to a post-workout protean smoothie.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Beef Cheek, Pumpkin, and Chickpea Stew

Nothing's better, when it's cold outside, than curling up on the sofa with a bowl of spicy tagine, a well-paired red wine, and an equally compatible loved-one. Stewing is my favourite wintery cooking method. As the braising aroma fills the air, your kitchen slowly heats the house, and when the sun sets and company arrives, you can enjoy the taste of patience. Slow cooked beef-cheek, pumpkin, dates, and chickpeas were the main components of this stew; but the real winner was the slow-cooked tomato-y beef broth that collected around the edges of the bowl. It had reduced so long in the dutch-oven that it transformed into a beef jus meets sweet aged balsamic vinegar deal...
I didn't follow this recipe, but the idea is the same. Just feel it out as you go. I love adding lots of dried fruit because it's unexpected and tastes really exciting. If you like your stews saltier or richer, up the salt or umami factor. Remember though, with salt, always season at the end of cooking. You can always add salt, but it's hard to take it back; and, adding more liquid to dilute an over-salty stew will un-do the richness you've previously built in with time.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Zucchini "Fettuccine" with Raw Creamy Pesto

I hope my Italian Nonna doesn't see this... Achieving a mock Alfredo/pesto/whatever you want to call it sauce, totally raw, is made possible by richer ingredients like nuts, oils, and avocados. Thanks to purchasing a cheap, handheld spiralizer, I don't feel so bad about eating heaps and heaps of the stuff for dinner. It's still quite rich, so once a month is a nice treat.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

My Favourite Winter Salad

Raw, fresh, crunchy salads are hard to come by when winter hits.  Lately I've been experimenting with carrots and cabbage, as I know they'll be reliable ingredients until the spring. Bought by the kilogram at the famers market, and stored in a cold celar, they're super cheap and yield an insane amount of food. If only more students knew how yummy root vegetables and winter-greens were...

The success of this salad relies on the dressing, as well as the "mouth feel" of the vegetables. When preparing dishes that are predominantly raw, you want to make the piece sizes and texture eater-friendly. For tough, root vegetables, that usually means shredding or spiralizing them. The dressing includes one of my new go-to ingredients: miso paste. It's the base ingredient for miso soup; the kind you get before lovely sushi meals. It has a ton of flavour and umami. Used in concentrated paste form, and mixed with other dressing ingredients, I find it suits hearty vegetables really well. I wouldn't use it for something like delicate butterhead lettuce, though. Cold Mountain's non-GMO red miso paste, which I'll link here, is really nice, but whatever is available to you will work just fine.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Raw Açaí Berry Bowl

Blend together: 1 frozen banana, 3 soaked dates, a handful of frozen blueberries, a handful of frozen acai berries and their juice (can be purchased in bulk, but powdered form works too), water or almond milk, pinch of spirulina, and a pinch of cinnamon. The consistency should be similar to soft-serve ice cream once it's blended. If you want the contrasting-coloured garnish at the end, like you see in the picture, reserve some of the banana date mixture before adding the blueberries. In a large cereal bowl, put down a layer of raw granola. Spread over your frozen blueberry mix. Top with whatever garnishes you like. I went with raspberries, sliced banana, bee-pollen (see nutritional benefits here), and pomegranate seeds. Add three dots of your white mixture and swirl it around with a knife. This is a really nice 10-minute breakfast. And, once you get the "fancy" ingredients stocked in your pantry, they won't seem so exotic. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Everything Autumn Soup

Cabbage, butternut squash, pumpkin, onion, turnip, carrot, celery, and garlic were all cooked until extremely soft. Spices can include any combination of: cinnamon, garam masala, ginger, tumeric, fennel, curry, corriander, cumin, etc. I skipped the browning-with-oil stage and jumped right to boiling everything in vegetable stock. I didn't notice a difference in the final product, and enjoyed how light and clean it was to eat! When the vegetables are good and mushy, use an immersion blender to keep the mess to a minimum. If you do use a stand-blender, be conscious of the mixture's heat being whirled around in a confined appliance. Put a tea towel over the lid of the blender incase things get rowdy... To make it even more lovely and silky, run the lot through a fine sieve before serving.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Apple Pie Smoothie *Raw Vegan

This is an awesome dessert-style smoothie that's easy on digestion and works well as a morning sugar boost. I've gotten out of the habit of eating large amounts of protein at every meal and transitioned to a predominantly vegetarian/vegan diet. Only on days that I lift weights, or am truly craving meat, will I have ethical protien. A higher quality of meat or fish, less often, is the best way to go! While I don't advocate eating heaps of cashews, nut butters, "tofurkey," or "vegan cheesecakes" in meat's absence - just eat a damn salad, or some lentils - having something like this smoothie is always a welcomed treat.

Soaking the dates and hemp seeds in a bowl of water the night before will give you a perfectly blended, creamy smoothie.

Blend together: 3/4 cup raw pressed apple cider, 1 frozen banana, a handful of soaked dates, a few tablespoons of soaked hemp seeds, ditto for chia seeds (optional protein add-on), pinch of nutmeg, 2 pinches of cinnamon, a few drops of vanilla, and enough water and ice to reach your desired thickness/frozen-ness. I like a massive size smoothie, so I water mine down and make it last an hour. You may like yours denser and sweeter. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Curried Lentil and Apple Salad with Chicken

I always have pre-soaked and cooked lentils kicking around the fridge, waiting to be thrown into salads and stews. Getting into this routine - cooking off lentils/chickpeas/rice/etc on weekends and storing it in the fridge - makes preparing week night meals really darn easy. In a medium skillet, heat a few spoons of olive oil, turmeric, curry powder, cayenne pepper, paprika, nutmeg, and some sugar or stevia. Fry onions until they lose their sharpness, but still have a crunch. Take off the heat and let cool as you make the rest. (Some recipes don't ask you to toast the spices, but this way requires just 8 minutes and is undiscriminating over the quality of spices you use. Uncooked heavy spiced dressings have a tendency to become powdery or gritty. This way you cook everything into a fail-proof oil-paste).

Beets with Yogurt and Dill

The inspiration for this came from a big pile of dill I collected at my weekly CSA. I love creamy dill sauces, but wanted to pair it with something other than salmon. I was weary to use beets because they have a tendancy to stain everything, especially white dairy. However, if you mix everything and serve it right away, you're golden! On that note... using golden or candycane beets might be a beter option.

In a bowl combine: 2 big dollops of plain full-fat yogurt, the juice and zest of 1/2 lemon, a few tablespoons of good-quality creamy blue cheese, a small handfull of chopped dill, salt and pepper. It's the easiest dressing in the world! Mix those ingredients together and then toss in cooked, peeled, and sliced beets, and a bunch of peppery arugula. Serve flat on a big platter to maximize the blue cheese crumbles you will sprinkle over now. Usually it's fun to stack things high for presentation, but beets are thin and lovely and anything disc-shaped does best to lie flat.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Mason-Jar Teas

I've been making these for a few years now and enjoy how every time they taste different. You can try to replicate your best batch of green/strawberry/mint iced tea, for example, but it will never hit the mark the way you remember a few weeks previous. Therfore, your best bet is to just keep on re-inventing the wheel and surprising yourself. My best concoctions were made when I wasn't a sissy about it - nettle tea, lemon juice, and dill for example, or apple tea/nutmeg/dulche de leche. If you can't replicate something, just 180deg turn and create something new all together! And this is where today's food/life philosophy comes in. In addition to putting transparent liquids and hunks of fruit in a jar (which I strangly think is an exciting way to spend one's afternoon), the same 180 approach works for almost every situation in life. Trying to re-create a memory will never do... you've built it up in your head and altered its pieces. Just do something new altogether and create better ones. Be bold! Then again, I'm 20 and know nothing. Just make the damn tea.

Three easy steps: 
Pour into a big ol' mason jar the following: a pot of tea you didn't finish drinking, any type of fruit, spice, seed, or whatever you care for, and the sweetener of your choice (I most often use stevia drops or raw honey). Let it sit in your fridge overnight, and up to a few days.

Autumn Eggplant and Pumpkin Dip

The finished result is very pretty. The oil will collect at the edges of the bowl and there will be three things going on: creamy dip, nutty pesto, silky oil. Serve with fresh, hard-crust bread, crudites, or your favourite crackers. Bonus points if you make this with a glass of wine in your hand.

This didn't have a recipe, so I'll do my best to recall what exactly was chucked into the blender and scooped into which bowls...

Two parts to this dip:

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Blueberry and Orange Scones with Nutmeg

These scones were the bomb! I brought them to one of my mother's community functions and they vanished in minutes. Thanks to Nimmi for the nutmeg she sent me from her grandfather's farm in India! I'll copy below the recipe I used from the Food Network Test Kitchen. *Note: I used dried blueberries instead of currents, more orange zest, a little orange juice, and lots of fresh grated nutmeg! This recipe is easy to double-batch and freeze for fresh scones at a moment's notice. Just take a few out of the freezer and pop into a 350deg oven for 8 minutes until they're "fresh outta' the oven" again. Shhhh.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Stuffed Spaghetti Squash *Vegan

1. Slice a spaghetti squash in half and smother with olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss into the oven on a parchment lined baking pan and cook for 40 minutes at 425F degrees.
2. While that's going, make whatever type of "red" sauce you like. I used onions, garlic, pureed roasted red peppers, tomato paste, and iItaliandried herbs. Once that's simmering on the stove and the squash is doing its thing, you can take off. (I went for a run...)
3. Pull out squash from oven and, using a large fork, scrape the long strands from the outer squash rind. You'll accumulate a large pile of what looks like spaghetti in your squash bowl. Pour in enough sauce to fill the bowl and mix it with the strands. Add salt and pepper too.
4. Top with whatever you like as a garnish. I used paper-thin slices of red bell pepper, a few dollops of hummus I made the day before, and some chopped parsley. If you're not worried about dairy, a sharp Italian cheese would be great. Broil in the oven until the top is golden and bubbly. (Ideal time for a post-run shower).
5. Serve with some fennel frawns strewn over the top, and a big salad on the side. Serves 2 hungry people. This takes about an hour and fifteen minutes from start to finish, but the actual hands-on time is twenty minutes tops!

Decadent Sauce for Chicken

1. Fry off lardons of bacon in a deep saute pan and reserve the fat
2. Add olive oil to prevent bacon fat from smoking and sear chicken breasts to seal in juices
3. Remove chicken from pan and cover with tinfoil as you make the sauce. Chicken should have a golden crust on the outside and still be raw on the inside
4. Add crimini, king oyster, enoki, or another rich type of mushroom slices to pan. Also add garlic, chopped up olives, sun dried tomatoes, tomato paste, and a glug of good balsamic vinegar.
5. Let the liquid volume reduce and become more concentrated as the chunky ingredients cook and soften.
6. After a few minutes of this, return chicken to pan to finish cooking. It will bathe in the rich sauce as it does.
7. Monitor the meat so that it doesn't overcook! Right at the end, add in a handful of fresh chopped parsley, as well as the bacon lardons. Once those are heated through, serve with rice or polenta. Spoon the chunky mixture piled high on the chicken. Drizzle the sauce around the plate and on the grains. Voila!

Spicy Rice Noodles and Salmon

Ingredients: Rice noodles, Chinese cabbage (cut into long strands to mimic noodles), bean sprouts, lime zest, lime juice, cilantro, homemade chili paste, ground peanuts, peanut oil, grilled salmon, and Siracha if that floats your boat... my boat swims in the stuff.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Orange Sponge Cake with Orange Custard Filling

Having guests over is always my excuse for baking. It offers the opportunity to test extravagant recipes that I couldn't normally justify using 12 perfectly good eggs-for-breakfast on. This cake was magical. Chocolate desserts, crisps, or cream-based desserts seem to be the standard issue, after-dinner go-to these days. This velvety, dense, orange sponge cake, with a rich orange custard took everyone by surprise. I'm not one for recipes, but when it comes to baking.... So the following I have written out from Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." It seems like a lot of work, and it is, but it's so freaking worth it! This is in my top 3 favourite desserts I've ever made. In case you're wondering though, this is my #1 - with photo here. But back to the orange cake:

My Favorite Bread Recipe

I keep raving about Jim Lahey's "no-knead" bread method, so I might as well post the darn recipe. I've made 4 loaves this week alone, and I'm finally getting a handle on the dough consistency. His way will always be gooey-er than I'm comfortable with, as I'm used to making the usual soft boule for kneading. I also throw in some sugar to the dough for extra...well I don't know, that's just how I've always made bread. Oh, and extra salt too, because everyone loves salt.

  • 3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • Cornmeal or wheat bran, as needed

3 Quick Finger Foods

Fresh: Cucumber, thick dill cream, corn and tomato salad, grilled shrimp, more dill

Hearty: Toasted squares of crusty bread, black bean/olive/roasted red pepper tapenade, feta cheese, parsley

Decadent: (sorry forgot to take a pic) Thin apple slices, caramelized & spiced pecans or pumpkin seeds, blue cheese

I made all of these to start a lovely dinner party the other night and there was something for everyone. The apple and blue cheese was my fave! It's basically a dessert and cheese course all in one, with a spicy kick.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Spiced Couscous and Lentil Pilaf with Raisins

As I don't fancy spending hours over a heated stove in the middle of summer, but still want something cooked, 15 minutes at most is ideal. In a large pot, cook plain couscous as you would normally. In a large skillet, fry garlic, 1/2 an onion, 1/2  a green or red bell pepper, and the following right before the end of the veggies browning: coriander seeds, cumin seeds, paprika, chili, etc. (I crushed my spices in a mortar and pestal first...). To the spiced fried veggies, add 2 chopped fresh tomatoes, a cup of cooked lentils, a handful of raisins, and stew everything down until there's very little liquid left in the pan.  Add the couscous right before the end so it doesn't overcook. Take the pan off the heat, stir in chopped walnuts, fresh chopped parsley, salt and pepper. This one got the older brother's seal of approval, so we know it's not sissy food.

CSA Haul

Here's a peek at just a handful of veggies we received from our Community Shared Agriculture with Fertile Ground. Cucumbers, zucchini, beets, tomatoes, garlic, kale, lettuces, beans, carrots, fresh herbs and flowers, etc. are in season. I'm particularly excited to feature the candy-cane striped beets in an upcoming blog post this week!

Marinated Dinosaur Kale

One of my favourite ways to prepare hearty and bitter greens is to marinade them in some type of acid and salt for a few hours until they become tender. For this one, mix olive oil, lemon and lime juice, chili paste, soy-sauce, grated ginger, and avocado in a bowl. Toss in any type of kale (dino kale is my fave), chard, or collard greens and let marinade in the fridge for a few hours. The acid and salt will take its effect on the toughness of the greens and make them silkier in the mouth. When serving, I always add a handful of spinach or mescaline to the bowl for extra green power. M

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Raw Zucchini Salad with Ginger/Cilantro Dressing and Grilled Shrimp

The key to making this summer dinner in 15 minutes will be getting your hands on a mandolin. It makes quick work of julienne-ing vegetables and creates a professional look with its uniform precision! If you don't have one (though I highly recommend it as they can run as cheap as $20 with various attachments) slice long veggie strands with a knife. You can use whatever veggies you like for this, but remember that you're serving it raw... Every time you add something to the bowl ask yourself how it will feel chomping through it in your mouth. Either make them into small pieces, or pick vegetables that crunch nicely. I used one very large and starchy zucchini, 1/2  head of radicchio, 1/2 a large cucumber, 1 apple, and 1/2 head of fennel. In a medium bowl, combine a few splashes of olive oil, the zest and juice of 1/2 lemon, a knob of fresh grated ginger, a dollop of grainy mustard, salt & pepper, a handful of chopped cilantro, and some honey if you like your dressing sweet. As a creamy bonus, 1 chopped avocado is really nice! Mix the dressing and veggies together and let marinade a few minutes, and up to an hour, while you make the shrimp. Peel 2 handfuls of large shrimp and season with garlic salt, parsley, and pepper. Heat a glug of olive oil in a large skillet, toss in the shrimp and cook until JUST done, and no more. (See my aversion to rubbery shrimp in this previous post). Squeeze in the other half of the lemon juice and let it reduce in the pan while you swirl around the shrimp to soak up all the juice. If you overcook your shrimp, you're missing out on their sweet, buttery quality! Serve the salad and shrimp as fancy or as free-form as you like. It always looks a bit posh when you swirl the salad like noodles and pile the shrimp high on top.... but the camera never captures us eating things straight from the mixing bowl, so no judgment! :)

Monday, July 21, 2014

What To Do With Kohlrabi

One of my favourite CSA gems, kohlrabi, is an awesome vegetable I only came onto a few years ago. It's hard to find at grocery stores, and when you do, it's often past its prime. It comes in soft green, purple, and white. Buy it fresh at the market for optimal flavor, and you'll also score the ability to still use the greens. Grocery store kohlrabi greens are usually woody, bitter, or wilted. The bulbous bottom tastes like a cross between broccoli stem, radish, and apple. It can be peeled and eaten raw or cooked. The greens can be eaten raw if they're young and fresh, or sauteed similar to winter greens if they're older and tougher. Here are some ideas to use this funky vegetable:
  • Kohlrabi and apple matchstick salad with mustard-y dressing
  • Pureed into any cream of vegetable soup
  • Sauteed watercress and kohlrabi with garlic
  • Shredded and made into fritters (like potato hash-browns)
  • Roasted with root vegetables 
  • Cut into disk rounds and steamed until tender, served with butter and salt (on that note, radishes prepared the same way are fantastic)
  • Celery root and kohlrabi mash, as an alternative to mashed potatoes 
  • Corn, kohlrabi, and cherry tomato salad 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Corn, Avocado, and Greens Salad with Spicy Dressing

This is a great summer salad (or meal) that can be thrown together in minutes. The dressing tastes like more work than it actually is, thanks to the handiest appliance around. In a food processor, combine dressing ratios of: olive oil, lime juice and zest, rice vinegar, soy sauce, one small chili pepper with seeds, 2 raw garlic scapes chopped up, and stevia/sugar/or honey. There's no need for salt and pepper, as the soy and chili takes care of those desires. Giver' a whirl until the dressing emulsifies! Set aside. In a large nonstick pan, flash cook a few handfuls of asian greens, as well as fresh cut corn, until everything's softened, but still retains its bite. It's going in a salad after all... While the greens and corn are warm, toss in a big salad bowl with cubed avocado, and some type of contrasting-colour lettuce. The heat will slightly wilt the crisp lettuce (which I love, as no one ever expects to like it as much as they do) and make the avocado become silky and extra soft. Pour the dressing over and toss it all together, being careful not to mush everything. Serve with tongs for easiest platter to plate.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Heirloom Tomatoes

What to do with a pile of quickly-ripening heirloom tomatoes? Here's a few ideas:

  • A fresh tomato, basil, and mozzarella salad, with olive oil and balsamic vinegar 
  • Really good bruschetta
  • Fried tomato sandwich, or BLT 
  • A no-cook tomato sauce for ravioli (they're too good to cook!) 
  • Gazpacho, or other cold soups
  • A tomato tart 
  • Flash-grilled tomato halves served with nutty pesto
  • Tomato salad with mint and cucumbers 
  • Tomato and watermelon salad with feta and honey
  • Served thinly sliced over eggplant parmesan
  • Heirloom tomato pizza with ricotta 
  • Tomato and beet salad 
  • One hundred more ideas

Farmer's Market Haul

Stocking up at the local farmer's market is my favourite way to spend Saturday mornings. Last weekend, I was lucky to have two girlfriends in town who had the brilliant idea to make a picnic out of the experience. Although we were a little under-prepared with cutlery and blankets, and basically all other picnic materials, we ate like royalty. For $10 a person we were able to pool our money and feast on: fresh berries, cucumbers, tomatoes, shucking peas, various breads and focaccias from the local bakery, a block of damn good aged-cheddar, bell peppers, kale, lentil spread, and chickpea hummus.


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Spicy Chickpeas and Tomatoes

In a frying pan on medium heat warm 1/4 cup of olive oil and toss in however much you feel of the following spices: cumin, cinnamon, chili, coriander seeds, cloves, mustard seeds, turmeric, etc. You're basically making your own Garam Masala and frying it to wake-up the spices and flavour the oil. Toss in green onions or scallions to the red-dyed oil and add 1 can of chickpeas (or those you've soaked and cooked already yourself). Toss in 1 chopped red tomato, and a handful of halved cherry tomatoes. Add a handful of chopped fresh parsley as the last step. Any sooner and it'll pop and crackle oil everywhere! With the back of a wooden spoon, smoosh some of the chickpeas into the oil to make a paste. Stir everything together and let it stand at room temperature a few minutes to meld the flavours. Serve as it is, or with warm naan bread.

Melon and Cucumber "Noodle" Salad with Mint

In a large bowl combine dressing ratios of: olive oil, white wine vinegar, honey, lime, a handful of thinly sliced mint leaves, salt, and cracked pepper. Whisk together. Aim for about 1/3 cup of dressing, on the tangy side. Cube half a ripe cantaloupe and add to the bowl. Either with a vegetable peeler or a spiralizer, create long "noodles" from one cucumber. A spiralizer will create a more consistent spaghetti shape, while a vegetable peeler will make "rustic" fettuccine style shreds. Either works! Add the noodles to the bowl and toss everything together. Let the salad marinade for 30 min - 1 hour in the fridge. Sprinkle with a little more chopped mint and serve.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Summer Strawberry Ideas

Strawberries are in-season the next few weeks. In case they're ripening too quickly on you here's some inspiration to transform them into something special. This is a weekend throwback to my favourite strawberry creations over the past few years. Click on the titles to be taken to the specific story/recipe. In order: Homemade donuts with strawberry dipping sauce, strawberry rhubarb cream pie, apple-berry crisp, glossy strawberry and apricot tartmore piesstrawberry frozen yogurt, mini peach and berry tarts, berry sangriastrawberry cream cheese biscuitsstrawberry and brie grilled cheese, and the strawberry hangover sandwich for roommates . In regards to savory flavor pairings with strawberries, corriander, mint, celery leaves, balsamic vinegar, pistachios, and any soft/mild cheeses will be proper!

Angie's Greens with Kohlrabi, Avocado, Lime, and Soy

Quite possibly the best salad I've ever made - and all thanks to Angie's latest greens harvest! I mixed a dressing of olive oil, lime juice/zest, soy sauce, and mashed garlic scapes on the bottom of a big salad bowl. To this, kale and bok choi leaves were added to soak a little while. (A good massage of the leaves doesn't hurt either). At the end, toss in chopped kohlrabi, avocado chunks, and lots of red-leaf lettuce. Amazing. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The "Best" Shrimp

This time last year I was treated to the most delicious shrimp I'd ever eaten in my life. It was a hot weekend in late June and my summer training group had just finished a grueling week at work. Stationed an hour outside of Montreal, our usual weekend routine (conditional on us not doing anything worthy of having weekend leave revoked), consisted of finding a way to the closest city to decompress. The moment Friday evening hit, we all crammed into one buddy or another's car and headed for Montreal. Most people steered directly to St. Catherine's street to numb their dampened spirits with goodies from the SAQ, or visits to Club SuperSex. A good friend and I, however, recovered in a totally different way that only true foodies can understand. After weeks of army food, we wanted a culinary vacation...if only for 2 1/2 days. We made fantastic french toast with a cherry compote, the saltiest margaritas, most caramelized root vegetables, freshest salads, fluffiest omelettes, and the juiciest shrimp! After an afternoon of sailing off Pointe Claire, we returned to the suburbs and I crashed in the backyard next to the pool. It was a nap in the sun made so glorious due to the long induced sleep-deprivation experienced up until that point. When I woke up (badly burnt), to my surprise there was a plate of perfectly sauteed shrimp in garlic and parsley sitting next to me on a table... accompanied by the cook in his dashing aviators. They were perfect! Not overcooked in the slightest, over-garlicky, and peppered just enough. I always try to re-create them at home (see picture), but they never taste as good. I chalk that phenomenon down to the re-occurring mystery of why the same dish never tastes as good the second or third time one prepares it: we associate food with so much more than the mere ingredients in the pan. It's about atmosphere, company, how hungry you are for down-time or good-eats, etc. And so, when I throw dinner parties or bring baked goods to school, I always try to plan the timing and atmosphere to heighten the experience: brownies during all-nighter study sessions before exams, a Spanish paella party on the beach at the end of summer, damn-it-we're-lazy-let's-order-Indian-food-cause-it's-pay-day, or just good tea with a friend when they need to chat. Tetley Orange Pekoe tastes really good with a side of tears... It's all in the atmosphere. Long story short, I made these shrimp on a weekend at home that wasn't as hard earned as the one in Montreal a year previous. The shrimp were delicious, but they didn't blow me away. Some moments in time are best bottled, sealed, and stored away, as perfect little memories not to be replicated. That said, don't overcook your shrimp! A baby kitten dies every time you turn those little crustaceans to rubber! Carry on.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Open-Faced Steak Sammies

Scouring through the crockery shelves I came across this wooden plank and thought I'd try my hand at those impromptu appetizer boards they do ever-so-candidly at upscale restaurants. I grilled flat-bread with olive oil, garlic and honey. Just toss the darn things right on the oven racks for 12 minutes at 400 degrees F. When they're done, slice them into quarters and begin topping. First, give 'em a smear of good quality blue cheese, then a few slices of avocado, then sliced steak (I rubbed these ones with chipolte, paprika, garlic, and adobo before broiling them in the oven), scatter over arugula, more blue cheese, a drizzle of oilve oil, salt and pepper, and a squeeze of lime. Serve hot or cold!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Taco Farm Review

 If you live in the Kitchener Waterloo area and you haven't yet been to Taco Farm, you need to go! It's a place I make an effort to visit every time I make the trip home from school. Creators of the restaurant, Nick and Nat (who by the way, are the coolest couple around) also own Nick and Nat's Uptown 21 just down the road. Taco Farm's portions are just the right size that you can order three or four tacos in order to try all the flavor combinations. My favourites are the smoked pork belly + pineapple salsa, and the fish + cabbage crudito. See their entire menu here. My absolute favourite dish, however, is the fried chicken. I swear they marinade the meat in voodoo and fry it in love butter. In reality they chop up whole birds, brine them for twenty four hours, bread them in corn flour, fry them, and serve them with a tequila/line/honey sauce that makes me weak at the knees. The prices at Taco farm are rockin', even for students. Yum!