Thursday, January 29, 2015

Blackberry and Mint Smoothie

One of my latest rockstar smoothie creations! In a blender combine: a big handful of blueberries, the same of blackberries, the same of spinach, 1/2 cup of pomegranate juice, 1 frozen very ripe banana, 2 tbs of liquid chlorophyll, a little bunch of fresh mint leaves or peppermint drops, ice, and enough water to make it into a thick drink. Blend until super smooth. This tastes very decadent, thanks to the berries, but also fresh and minty. The colour is also a nice switch up!

Claire's Buddha Bowl

The effort put into my salads exists in a perfect ratio with the level of homework procrastination I deem necessary. Currently, I'm chomping through a collection of James Joyce novels and my own stream of consciousness cries out for a break after every hour of reading. Naturally, this salad came about. Rhetorically, the ingredients in my fridge were questionable. Symbolically, it was enlightened creation given the circumstances. Conversely, I should have used the time to work on my essay. But, to draw a parallel, a nourished student is a happy student. Can you tell my head is stuck in essay mode?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Brave Green Soup

In a blender combine three big handfuls of spinach, a handful of kale, a handful of cauliflower florets, 1 stick of celery, 1/2 small zucchini, 1/8 cup raw onion,1 medium tomato (reserve 1/4 for garnish), 1/2 tablespoon of spirulina, little bunch of wheatgrass, 1/2 tablespoon of chlorella or chlorophyll, and as much fresh parsley and cilantro as you like. Puree until super smooth. Add in 1/2 avocado and blend another 20 seconds. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour into a soup bowl and top with finely chopped cauliflower, leftover tomato, nutritional yeast, and a big slice of avocado. Like the title suggests, this soup is pretty far up the scale of 1--herbivore. If you want to tone down the grass factor, omit the chlorophyll and wheatgrass. If you want to up the hear factor, blnd in a little fresh chili. The nutritional yeast is the perfect balancing flavour for this soup. I find its distinct iron-y taste works well with some dishes (mainly soups and salads), and not at all with others. It's a good counter-balance to fresh, snappy food. If you're not into raw/cold soups (it's kind of like gazpacho, right?), I have plenty of other veggie-based soups on my site. Use the "Search" bar on the top right corner of the blog, or the "Labels" on the right.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Christmas Eve Dinner 2014

If you've been following my site for some time, you'll know that Christmas Eve dinner in an Italian household constitutes more attention than the 25th's spread the following night. Compared to previous years, mom and I toned things down. We split the cooking duties and each made five dishes. I looked after a luscious creamed pumpkin and sweet potato mash with cinnamon, lentils and chorizo with wine sauce, endive and pickled beet appetizers, phyllo/spinach/blue cheese triangles, and a variety of Christmas cookies. Preparing everything the night or week before freed up the entirety of Christmas Eve day. I slept in, hit the gym, and read a few chapters of whatever novel my English degree dictated at that time. In past years, preparation was a three day process; but this time around was a no sweat event. I plan on next year's Christmas being spent at a new home, somewhere hot in the world. Maybe you'll get to read about a hodge-podge festive dinner shared on the floorboards of tropical yurt. One can hope...

Vegan Shepherd's Pie

This was one of my best creations of the month!

Start by sauteing onions, carrots, celery, and garlic in coconut oil. Once they are translucent and caramelized, add in some fresh thyme and rosemary. Cook another minute to soften the herbs. Deglaze the pan with a 3/4 cup of red wine (I keep a jar in the fridge of any leftovers from when people don't finish their glass), and cook off the alcohol until just a sticky syrup is left. Add a cup of tomato puree and reduce that as well. Next, pour in a cup of hot water and bring everything to a boil. Add in lots of sliced mushrooms, and cook until their are soft. Add in a cup of fresh or frozen peas, and pre-cooked lentils (I keep them in my fridge all week for salad toppings, and these were the leftovers). Cook the stew-y mixture down until it looks like vegetables and gravy. Keeping the lid off the saute pan the whole time will quickly evaporate the liquid. Add a little slurry of cornstarch or flour and water to thicken the mixture even more. Cook for a few minutes more to erase the starchy taste. Stir in a generous handful of chopped parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Christmas Lentils

The idea for this came when I saw a half bottle of week-old wine in the fridge. An $8 Malbec and some chicken stock were used to flavour the lentils, and it worked out better than I could have imagined! First, brown some chopped chorizo in a big saucepan. Remove and saute  onions and garlic in the fat. Deglaze with a few cups of wine and cook off some of the alcohol. Add in your chicken stock, a pinch of salt, and bring to a boil. Drop in a pile of green or brown lentils (but not red lentils as they will turn to mush), and a little bundle of thyme. Cook until tender but not overdone. Drain any excess liquid. Fluff with a fork and let cool slightly. Add in your crispy chorizo pieces and toss together for a lovely red and green sidedish.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Mango Chutney

This weekend featured a delicious Indian-inspired dinner. We made a vegetable curry with lots of fresh turmeric, ginger, curry-powder, saffron, and coriander. For the meat eaters, flatbread stuffed with chicken and chutney filled the gap. And for everyone, turmeric-coloured rice served as a neutral base. The highlight for me however, thanks to my spontaneous sous-chef/boyfriend, was this mango and pineapple chutney. We glanced at a few recipes online, but didn't follow any one site too particularly. The general idea for making condiments is more or less the same: vegetables or fruit, sugar and salt, an acid, and a liquid. For this rockstar chutney, first saute onions and fresh or dried chili in a little oil (we used coconut oil). Then, add fresh grated ginger, turmeric, curry-powder, and a chopped yellow bell pepper. Next, add a handful of sugar, a pinch of salt, a few splashes of apple-cider vinegar, a handful of chopped pineapple, and two handfuls of chopped mango. A sprinkling of any dried fruit is also recommended if you like the extra chewy sweetness. Bring everything to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer for 30 minutes. Let everything cook down and mash to your desired consistency. Cool before serving. Chutney tastes wonderful with more than just Indian food too! Spoon it onto leftover poultry, into sandwiches, or toss it with roasted root vegetables and return to the over for 5 minutes to caramelize the sugary coating (like using maple-syrup). Thanks Josh!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Endive Boats with Nut Pate and Pickled Beets

This year's Christmas Eve dinner featured a number of different appetizers. My favourite among them was this little combination: endive spears, a walnut/sunflower seed/shredded carrot/garlic/tahini/parsley pate, and matchstick pickled beets. The pate was a matter of throwing all of the ingredients in the food processor, while the beets were made by julienning 1/2 a raw beet, coating in vinegar/sugar/salt, pouring over boiling water and letting stand for a few hours. The boiling water was enough to soften the beets, considering their size and flash-cooking time. Assembly is even simpler. Cut off the end of an endive, break off the spears, lie flat on a board, spoon in a few tablespoons of pate, and top with a bunch of the colourful beet slivers. The combination of flavours is unexpected, fresh, crisp, raw, but still satisfying thanks to the rich pate. Five or six of these would easily make a great dinner.