Sunday, April 13, 2014

Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Almonds and Grapes

 Tagine is both the name for the dish, as well as the clay vessel in which it is traditionally cooked. A North African staple, tagines are slow-cooked, savory stews with a variety of flavor combinations. I didn't have the recommended fluted dish, nor the coals to cook it over, so I happily resorted to my trusty green Ikea slow cooker stove-top oven. When making tagines I usually stick to two or three flavour combinations, apart from the chosen meat or fish: olive and preserved lemon, mango and prune, carrot and ginger, plum and cocoa, etc. That said, they all start with a heavy base of onions, ginger, turmeric, saffron threads (just a few! And P.S. that package reads 80 thai Baht), cardamom, cinnamon, and I like to throw some allspice in, as well. Take care when browning the meat to not dump it in all at once and make it steam. Brown a handful of pieces, scoop them out, add new fat to the pan if you've run out, and brown the next batch. Do this until all the stewing lamb (or other meat) is browned, return the onion and spice mix to the pan and then add you liquid, dried fruits, etc. and simmer on a low heat for a few hours. Add the vegetables, half an hour before serving, to get them tender. I actually added some blanched almonds during the onion phase, and so sprinkled some over-top at the end as a garnish. Serve with oily couscous and a sprinkle of chopped, fresh mint.

Speedy Upside Down Cake

I got the idea for this from an old British cookbook I found years ago when scouring the cottage cupboards for last-minute dessert ideas. It's a simple upside down cake, but instead of a tall and thick cake batter with raw fruit on the bottom (taking a while to bake in the oven), you use a light and airy sponge-cake batter and already cooked fruit jam. I made a quick lemon sponge with some extra citrus zest and orange juice to amp up the flavor and a cherry preserve for the bottom. If you're really impatient like me, and refuse to wait for the whole damn cake to cool and invert, just cut into sections and invert slice by slice. Top with yogurt and honey to play on the light & quick theme. Ain't nobody got time for that ice cream scoopin' and chocolate drizzle. It;s not the most beautiful of desserts out there, but if you get the sponge moist enough (oil, oil, butter, milk/juice, oil!) nobody will complain.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Green Potion #9

I'm still perfecting the magic green drink. Here's what I've got so far: 1/2 frozen banana, 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice, 1 cup of spinach, 1/2 cup of chopped kale (stems removed), a handful of green grapes, 1 stick of celery, a handful of fresh parsley (good for cleansing). For supplements, I like: 1/2 tablespoon of spirulina, 1/2 tablespoon of Greens+, wheatgrass, flax oil or flax seed, etc. Top with as much ice and water as you care for. Only drink this if you have an affinity for fresh mowed grass, hemp clothing, and raging against the man.

More Salad Love

Always on the hunt for new salads, I raided mom's fridge. Combine baby spinach, grape tomatoes, cucumber, some "leftover quinoa thing," (this is where it gets weird), guacamole, trail mix, feta cheese, and top it off with the usual olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Don't hate. All the components are there: fresh, snappy, sweet, chewy, salty, oily, vinegary, etc. I just arrived at saladville through the back door.
I'm detecting a lot of hate. Saladville doesn't allowed haters. Bye.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Wine & Cheese Done Right

Here's another example of what students can put together if they're enthusiastic enough. Cubes of cheddar and mozzarella are fine, but this was so much better! We got four cheeses (all from a specialty store in Kingston): smoked Gouda, Notredame Brie, St. Agur blue, and sharp vintage cheddar. Breads and crackers were bought from Kingston's famous Panchancho bakery, and extra sides included: olive tapenade, dried figs, grapes, dark chocolate drops and milk-chocolate honeycombs. Check out my friends' wine review site: From Boxes to Bottles *Hint: click "show full review" to get the full experience. Josh and Nate do an excellent (and hilarious) job at taking the fuss out of understanding wines for the non-connoisseurs out there. They even include suggested drinking music - genius! The Masi Valpolicella, among other bottles, we enjoyed was paired with some good ol' Michael Buble. And, Nate did well to get us a Chardonnay to enhance the blue cheese. All in all, it was a perfect night capped off with some proper guitar playing.


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Girls' Night Appetizers

While us students' general inclination may be to splurge on the drinks and skimp on the snacks, last night we proved that we could have it both ways. Avocados, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, spinach, puff-pastry, one nice block of cheese, some fresh herbs, and a lime or two - when the cost is divided up - is far cheaper than a restaurant! We made: guacamole with baked tortillas, mighty fine bruschetta, cheesy spinach puff-pastry squares (for which a bottle of wine doubled as the rolling-pin), and baked rosemary/maple sweet potato fries. Not too shabby. A lot of little things were nice to nibble-on in between board-games and gossip. Naturally, the night ended with dancing downtown.