Sunday, June 16, 2013
This is a bit of a cheater post, since what I'm leaving you isn't really a recipe, but I couldn't let this salad slide by the way side. Considering that I've had it in different variations about 5 times this past week, I can safely say that this salad is a winner.
Ok, so it really is just a salad. But hey, I love salads. You can make friends with salad. Wanna know why? Because you can put whatever you want in it, and when it's late spring about to bloom into summer, the markets are just beginning to tumble out the fresh, local produce, perfect for a salads. It's also a time when avocados aren't five dollars a piece, and can be purchased three at a time for a reasonable price.
Fresh herbs litter this lovely salad -- thyme, parsley, oregano -- anything from your garden. I've had versions with fresh peas, lovely Ontario asparagus, cherry tomatoes, and just bare bones as the picture shows: crisp romaine lettuce, avocado and tofu chunks, random fresh herbs. It also sings with a simple lime vinaigrette sweetened with maple syrup.
I would love this salad sprinkled with cumin-seasoned black beans, chickpeas, slices of fresh, local strawberries, chunks of fresh peach, Ontario corn, fresh off the cob, cucumber cut into tiny chunks ... Seriously, whatever you want.
Summer Fresh Salad Base:
3 large leaves of romaine lettuce, chopped
a chunk of firm tofu (mine was seasoned with herbs)
1/4 of an avocado, chopped (don't wait till it turns brown like I did!)
1 handful of fresh herbs -- I used parley, oregano, thyme
1. Toss all the ingredients in a bowl, plus any extra add-ins you like (suggestions above!). Now, make your dressing.
juice of half a lime
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon of maple syrup (or honey, or agave)
1/2 teaspoon of herbs de Provence
a few grinds of black pepper
2. Whisk together all the ingredients. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Add more sweetener if you like.
3. Pour over your salad and dig in.
Monday, June 10, 2013
I've mentioned on more than one occasion that the best gifts in the world are the ones that we make ourselves. It's pretty awesome to bake up a batch of cookies or whip up some homemade chocolate hazelnut spread, put a bow on it and give it to someone you love.
It's also pretty awesome to be on the receiving end of some homemade goodies. I received a very unique homemade gift just this weekend. In between breakfast, coffee, girl talk and lots of giggles, my friend pulled out a package for me. "I made you curried lentils," she said, and followed that with "I also put together all the ingredients you'll need to make a full batch." Isn't that awesome! Not only did I get a container of thick, rich, spicy lentil curry, but I also got a goody bag filled with red lentils, a tomato, an onion, tons of garlic, and a little packet filled with the curry paste and spices. It totally solved my dinner problems -- especially today with the rainy spurt that we're having. It was great to tuck into a spicy, tomato-y bowl of comfort.
When I heated up the "sample" I got, I added a little extra water, stirred in a handful of spinach and ate it as is -- like a thick stew. It needed nothing else. When we actually made the full recipe, we snuck in some cauliflower in the end for a little extra veggie love, and had it over bowls of brown rice. Delicious both ways! This curry is spicy, but not so spicy as to leave you sweating. It's got a flavour kick from both curry paste and powder, and so you know that it'll be tasty.
This recipe comes together in a snap, thanks to the quick-cooking red lentils, and was stress-free to make, even on a Monday night when I got home later than usual, soaked to the skin from the downpour outside. this recipe makes a nice big pot, so if you're like us with only two in your family, you'll have plenty of leftovers to last you the week.
If you're craving little weeknight spice and want to share the love with some friends, give this recipe a go. While you're waiting for a it to cook, grab a couple zip lock bags, toss these pantry staples together and give someone the amazing gift of a stress free supper.
Red Lentil Curry
adapted from allrecipes via TodayisBananas
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons of curry paste
1 tablespoon of curry powder
1 teaspoon of tumeric
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 teaspoon of chili powder
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 large tomato diced
3-4 cups of water, vegetable broth or tomato juice (alternately you could just use a can of crushed tomatoes)
2 cups of red lentils, rinsed well
Optional add-ins: half a head of cauliflower cut into florets, a few handfuls of baby spinach
1. In a large pot, sweat the onions and garlic in the olive oil over medium low heat until things get soft, fragrant and translucent -- about 3 minutes
2. Add in the curry paste, and all the spices, plus the salt and sugar. Stir well.
3. Add in the tomato, liquids, lentils and turn up the heat. Stir well.
4. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until the lentils are tender, but not falling apart. You may need to add extra liquid if things get too dry.
If you're add the cauliflower, add it now -- bury the florets in the bottom and let them hang out there for about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let it sit for another five minutes. If you're adding the spinach, now is the time. Stir them in gently to wilt.
5. Serve -- rice is awesome with it, obviously, but so would some nice whole wheat flat bread.
Sunday, May 26, 2013
Barbecue season is upon us. We had our first barbecue last weekend, and then near the end of the week, the weather got chilly again and we immediately hid under a blanket of soup. So hopefully I'll write about my barbecue adventures next week if the temperatures behave.
This weekend, I'm peaking out from below the sand to share a very simple recipe using one of my new discoveries this past month -- miso. I've always loved ordering miso soup at restaurants, but I've never actually bought a tub of miso -- too intimidated by the intensity of the paste and the fear that I won't use it up (like what happened to my kimchi ...). Anyway, when I spotted this recipe for body nourishing wraps over at Good Things Grow, we broke down and bought some miso. The recipe included a carrot miso paste that totally blew me away. I've made this recipe many times since, and loved every bite.
Today, I'll leave you with a simple miso soup, sans seaweed but boosted with lots of ginger, shallots, scallions, tofu, baby spinach and mushrooms. We shared a bowl for a perfect mid-afternoon snack, but it would be totally awesome as a meal for one, and would be even awesomer and more substantial if you added some soba noodles, udon or vermicelli. Think of it as a base. Now go get some miso!
makes one bowl perfect for sharing
1 teaspoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of shallots, minced
1/2 teaspoon of ginger, minced
2 teaspoons of organic white miso paste (add more of less to taste)
2 cups of vegetable broth of water
4 small dried chinese mushrooms, rehydrated in water for about 30 minutes, then sliced
a small chunk of tofu (I used a silken, extra firm) cut into small cubes
1 large handful of baby spinach
1 small green scallion, chopped
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. In a small pot, sweat the shallots and ginger in the olive oil over low heat, until things start to get soft and fragrant, but not brown -- about 3-4 minutes. Add the mushrooms.
2. Add the miso paste and a splash of the broth and mix until the miso has kind of combined with the liquid. Add the rest of the broth and stir well. Let your soup simmer for about 5-7 minutes over low heat.
3. Add the tofu and spinach, mix well, and let it summer for another 5ish minutes.
4. Serve immediately and garnish with the scallion and a good grinding of black pepper.
Sunday, April 14, 2013
It's 4:10pm on Sunday and the sun is peaking around the clouds. It will probably fade in awhile, but I'll take what I can get. Even though spring has officially arrived (despite the snow we got last week!), the air is still damp with that winter chill that has yet to be shaken from the city. During our walk today, I still saw glimpses of thick woolly scarves, mitts, winter tuques and children sipping hot chocolate.
No matter. Chilly days make for great baking days, and although the air was warmer today, I still felt the need to turn on the oven and bake up something warm, sweet and soothing. Plus, I wanted to use my new colourful silicone baking cups! I thought I'd usher in spring a little faster by baking with strawberries -- no local ones in the market yet, so I made do with Californian ones. But if your freezer is filled with bags of berries from last summer, that's probably a nicer way to go.
These muffins come together quickly -- oats and spelt flour give it a hearty good-for-you texture and taste, and the banana and maple syrup naturally sweetens them up perfectly. A sprinkling of raw sugar on top and we're ready for a Sunday afternoon coffee break or movie marathon. It's also the perfect energy-packed snack to bring with you on an early spring hike, or the first biking adventure after the winter.
It's 4:17 and what did I tell ya? The sun is slowly fading behind the clouds again, but now I've go muffins, so all is still well.
Vegan Strawberry Banana Muffins
adapted from That's so Vegan
makes 12 muffins, or 6 muffins and 1 mini loaf
1 banana, mashed
2 tablespoons of safflower oil (or canola .. btw, I switched to safflower after a bad canola experience)
1/4 cup of maple syrup
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons of soy or almond milk
1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extrtact
2/3 cup of rolled oats
1 cup of spelt flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 cup of chopped strawberries
1-2 tablespoons of raw sugar
1. Whisk together the banana, oil, maple syrup, milk and vanilla until well combined. Add the oats, mix well and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Now would be a good time to wash, hull and chop your strawberries.
2. Sift in the flour and baking powder and mix until just combined. Fold in the strawberries.
3. Pour the batter into lined muffin tins and sprinkle raw sugar on top. Bake at 350 for about 20-25 minutes or until the tops are nice and golden and a cake tester inserted comes out clean.
Saturday, March 30, 2013
You know how seasoned home cooks have a "fish guy," or "meat guy" that they trust to give them quality stuff all the time? Well, we have a rice guy. He runs Rube's Rice -- the island of rice and grains and legumes on the bottom floor of St. Lawrence Market. He is our supplier of Nishiki and lentilles du Puy, is knowledgeable about cavena nuda and was the first to introduce me to jade pearl rice.
Today, we felt like splurging, so we picked up a bag of Canadian-grown wild rice. As we were paying, he handed us a slip of paper with a recipe for wild rice salad on it and told us to give it a try. Off we went to the bulk store next door to pick up the rest of the ingredients, and I'm so glad we did.
This salad tastes fresh and fragrant like spring, and yet is made from ingredients that you could easily find in the winter. It's got a mild sweet dressing of orange juice, olive oil, salt and pepper, a sweet richness from pecans and golden raisins, a savoury sharpness from finely chopped shallot, and a nice spring freshness from a handful of fresh mint -- all wonderful flavours that don't overpower the herbal nuttiness of the wild rice. When I make it again, I might add a splash of red wine vinegar to give the dressing add bit more zing, and perhaps a few chunks of orange segments to add a burst of juiciness.
Want more reason to make this salad? It's vegan, gluten-free and very filling. Wild rice is a beautiful backdrop for a switch-up in fruits and nuts -- walnuts or slivered almonds, dried cranberries or cherries, a sprinkling of pomegranate arils .. It probably tastes better the following day -- meaning that you could make a big batch, have some with your dinner and have leftovers that will taste even better to pack for lunch. Do I need to go on?
Thank-you Rice Guy!
Wild Rice Salad
adapted from the Rice Guy :)
2/3 cup of wild rice
2.5 cups of water
1/4 cup of chopped pecans
1/4 cup of golden raisins
zest and juice of half an orange
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of minced shallot
a small handful of mint, torn or chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1. Rinse the wild rice well. Place it in a pot with water. Bring to boil, then cover and lower the heat to a simmer. Let it cook for 40 - 45 minutes. Check it at the 30 minute mark to see if you need to add more water. Drain and place in a large bowl.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients to the rice and toss well. Let it sit for 2 hours (if you can wait! We couldn't!) or overnight.
Monday, March 25, 2013
It's still a bit nippy out there. The winds are still whipping by my face in the morning, and I still reach for my pair of fuzzy socks when I'm walking across the cold concrete floors.
But ... spring is definitely on the way. It was warm enough for me to take my hat off this afternoon, the sun peaked at us for more than just a few minutes, and this past weekend, I saw rhubarb in the market. Yup, rhubarb -- those beautiful pinky-red stalks of deliciousness. They are a sure sign of spring. I couldn't resist snatching up a bunch and immediately turning them into something sweet and gooey and tasty. And what could be easier than a crumble?
I mixed my rhubarb with a crisp apple to give it a little sweetness, and added a double dose of ginger -- candied and fresh -- to give this dessert a little spice. It's the perfect mesh of flavours to have while winter melts into spring -- fresh and tangy, warm and spicy. Perfection!
Because I baked this crumble in a smallish baking dish, it ended up being more like a pandowdy -- the top of the crumble topping turned nice and brown and crumbly, but the because it ended up being such a thick layer, the further you went down, the more biscuit-like it turned. Totally fine by me, though. The biscuity parts were tender and tasty and soaked up the rhubarby-gingery juices really well. It was the perfect way to end a meal, and as the original recipe suggests, also perfect served with a dollop of yogurt and alongside a strong coffee for breakfast.
Rhubarb Apple Ginger Crumble
adapted from Poppytalk
For the Fruity Part
1 pound of rhubarb (about 4 large stalks)
1 large apple (I used a Jonagold)
1/3 cup of brown sugar
1 tablespoon of minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon of candied ginger, chopped fine
juice and zest of a lemon
1. Mix all the ingredients in a large pot and heat gently -- stirring frequently. Let the fruity mixture bubble and cook for about 5-7 minutes, or until the rhubarb and apple start to get soft and juicy.
2. Pour the mixture into a baking dish -- keep in mind that if you use a smaller (like 6inch) dish, you'll get pandowdy-like results -- biscuity with a bit of crumble on the top. If you more crumble/crisp- like results, use a larger dish.
For the Topping
1 cup of spelt flour
1/2 cup of rolled oats
1/4 cup of brown sugar
1 tablespoon of minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon of candied ginger, chopped fine
1/3 cup of butter (I used Earth Balance)
2 tablespoons of maple syrup
1. Mix the flour, oats, sugar and gingers together. Using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour mixture until you get a coarse mealy texture.
2. Add the maple syrup and use a spatula to incorporate into the crumble. Spread the crumble mixture over the fruit mixture.
3. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes, or until the fruit starts bubbling up over the top, and the crumble is nice and golden brown.
Monday, March 18, 2013
March Break = Finished. This year, I didn't make a list of to-dos ... I just did! Brunches, coffees, programming, writing, adventuring, baking. I usually love lists, but they felt a bit constricting this year, so I just played it by ear. And it was a truly relaxing and productive week. Score on all fronts!
Today, it's back to the whirlwind of the classroom, and that bowl of cereal is just to tempting to call supper, so I'm presenting you with a beautiful, quick and healthy supper dish that's satisfying and easy to prepare: Mushroomy veggie bowl. It's inspired by a veggie steamed bun that I bought for a snack one day at the dim sum stand at T&T. It's a simple saute of shredded cabbage, carrots, spinach, ginger, tofu and Chinese mushrooms seasoned with splashes of soy and toasted sesame oil. Very classic and very simple. The first night, I had this mixture over brown rice veggie spirals, and I had leftovers over brown rice with an extra drizzle of dark soy. Delicious bowls both ways. Nix the tofu and replace with left over chicken breast if you're feeling carnivorous, or use chickpeas as your protein bump instead. Either way, keep it simple -- that's what we're going for here.
For this recipe, I used dried Chinese mushrooms that I re-hydrated in water about 30 minutes before I started cooking. They have a really intense mushroomy flavour that gives this dish a real body. I'm sure fresh mushrooms would work well too -- especially ones like shitakes or king oysters -- although if you go that route, the mushroomyness will be a lot tamer.
I have another bowl coming up later this month. They never get tiring around these parts and are a welcome distraction from the cereal box.
Mushroomy Veggie Bowl
feeds two hungry people
2 servings of dried pasta or
1 cup of brown rice + 2 cups of water
4-5 dried Chinese mushrooms
2 cups of shredded savoy or napa cabbage (about 5-6 leaves worth)
1 large carrot, finely diced or shredded
1/ 2 package (about 3-4 ounces) of firm tofu, but into cubes
a handful of baby spinach or chopped spinach
an inch bit of ginger finely chopped
a big splash each of dark and light soya sauce
1/4-1/2 cup of water or vegetable stock
a big grind of black pepper
1 tiny drizzle of toasted sesame oil
1. Put your dried mushrooms in a bowl of water. Let them sit while your prep everything else.
2. Cook your pasta according to the package directions. Drain and set aside. OR: Put 1 cup of brown rice and 2 cups of water in a small pot. Bring to boil, then lower the heat, cover, and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the rice is nice and tender.
3. While your rice or pasta is cooking and your mushrooms are soaking, prep your vegetables. Heat a bit of oil in a saucepan and saute the ginger for about 1 minute or so, or until it starts to get fragrant and a tiny bit brown.
4. Add the carrots and cabbage and stir well. Your mushrooms should be ready! Squeeze out the excess water, slice them up and toss them in with the carrots and cabbage. Add your tofu now too. Add 1/4 cup of water or vegetable stock along with the soy and black pepper.
5. Mix well and cook for about 4 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Add in the spinach, and mix well. Cook for another minute or so, and then drizzle over the toasted sesame oil.
6. Serve over your pasta and rice.