Friday, November 19, 2010

keep it in the fam

my mom's mom is awesome.
she knits socks, enjoys swimming every day, and doesn't lay it on thick when i'm too busy to call. 
the absence of guilt in a jewish grandmother relationship is a pleasant and welcome rarity that i am lucky to know.
growing up, my 'safta' (as i call her), had very little in the way of money. but she came from a happy and healthy family (of 12 kids!!) and her mum must have taught her right because she's sharp as a whip and can cook like a gem. 
this rice and lentil pilaf, known as 'mejadra', was passed down from my great-granny, to safta, to my mom...you get the idea. whenever i make it i wonder if anyone outside my family would find it as amazingly enjoyable as i do, or whether that's just a matter of repeated exposure and good memories.
there's only one way to find out...give it a try!
my great-granny knew what was up with 4 food groups and complimentary proteins.
i make a long-grain brown rice for the nutritious bonus, but i think the OG (original grandma, duh) made it with white rice back in the day...rinse half parts rice and brown lentils, and then cook like you would normal rice (use more water for brown rice).
slice and fry a cooking onion in oil until it's practically burnt to a crisp....i don't know, it just tastes better that way.
make a 'middle eastern' salad with finely sliced tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, green onion, and grated carrots and radishes (i didn't have radish, but it's good). my salad is not so finely chopped. i'm too impatient for that kind of task. anyway the salad skills seem to be a 'guy' thing that run down the dad side of my fam. 
fine, i'll tell you about it. 
my dad's dad used to make a salad out of those ingredients that we called: (loose translation alert!!) 'shredded little salad'. point is, we had a name for it, and my bro picked up this skill and can also spend a good 45 minutes cutting little pieces of tomato into uniform tomato molecules. so, OCD is good for some things i suppose.
yogurt on the side makes it a meal. 
shablam!





Wednesday, November 10, 2010

puttin' on the shnitz

it was dumb of me to stay out this late sans dinner, but i guess i lost track of time while feeling up the incredibly soft throws at pottery barn.
anyway, i got home at 9:12pm. starving.
and i swear, not a word of a lie, that i was finished eating dinner by 9:37. that's 25 minutes to prepare and eat dinner. all i'm saying is, if you don't have 25 minutes to devote to making a fresh and delicious dinner, then i don't know how to help you. i'm also saying that a certain rachel ray can kiss my a with her idiotic 30-minute meals. boom.


shnitzel, (the only food item my paternal grandmother [may she rest in peace] knew how to cook)-(kinda), is basically (for all of you non-jewish or eastern european folk) a large chicken finger. 
*read outside the brackets for the annotated version of that sentence.


rather than using the traditional breadcrumbs or crushed corn flakes to coat the chicken, i opted for a coating made of nacho chips that i zapparooed in the coffee grinder for a couple seconds. nacho-bit coated fried chicken. nuff said.
you'll need a thin piece of chicken breast. you can buy a regular one and then force it into thinness by pounding it down, or do it like me and buy 'scalloppini' chicken breast-cut nice and thin.
rinse your breast (ha) and pat it dry with a paper towel. then dip it in a beaten egg followed by your choice of crumbs. (i added cayenne pepper, black pepper and sea salt to my nacho crumbs, but you can add any dry spice to any kind of crumb).
then all you gotta do is lay it flat on a hot pan with a bit of oil in it for 4-5 minutes on each side. 
ha! now you're laughing!


make this dinner remotely healthy with a big fresh salad and dijon-lemon vinaigrette





Monday, November 8, 2010

eff winter

nothing marks the decline of so good into so sucky quite like the turning back of clocks does. i've previously mentioned my dislike (read: contempt) for the cold weather and wintertime...well, 'falling back' an hour is the penultimate sign that for the next 6 months there will be no more skirts and sandals, tanned skin, smiles, or happiness. of course the first step towards dealing with the loss of something as precious as sun, warmth, and the ability to leave my house is like the first step to dealing with anything unpleasant; denial.


i went into full denial mode last night and made the most summery dish i could think to make.
i happened to have shrimp and all the other ingredients i needed, so it was just a matter of closing my eyes and channeling summer memories, like eating fresh ceviche on the sunny deck of a catalina in july. ahhh, the life. it was there that i learned that ceviche (a citrus-marinated seafood dish) can be made quite easily at home (or on a boat).


this is how it's done. son.
cut shrimp up into bite-sized pieces (use cooked and peeled shrimp if you're scared to use the raw stuff, but the acid from the limes is meant to do the job of 'denaturing' the protein-ya, be safe!). place them in a flat-ish container and cover them in fresh-squeezed lime juice. lots of it.
mince garlic and chop fresh cilantro, jalapeƱo pepper, tomato, grapefruit, avocado, and throw it all in there with a bit of sea salt. cover and set in the fridge for a long time, like, 24 hours. it'll keep for a few days. when you take it out to eat, it'll be nice and fresh. 
cold and spicy and low-fat so you can still look good in that bikini. everything you need on a scorching hot day like today! i'm not crazy.
ps. in case you want to acknowledge winter, this is the ultimate cold-combating food. vitamin c, zinc, fresh garlic....holy!

ceviche. soooo much more fun to say than 'salsa'.


Friday, November 5, 2010

i'm stuffed!

sleepovers. YAY!
they're everyone's fave. if you aren't a fan, then you're obviously some kind of monster. 
tussles, tickles, cuddles, talking 'til 3am....appropriate or not, sleepovers are the best! and the best of the best is having breakfast with your special sleepover buddy the next morning. 
this morning was the best of the best of the best! a sleep-in with a cuddly (rhymes with panda) and my favourite breakfast (french toast) made even better...STUFFED!


this was actually the first time i've ever made stuffed french toast and it turned out pretty delish. 
i used sliced wholewheat bread - toasted. made a mixture out of ricotta cheese, apricot jam, chopped dry dates, and cinnamon... spread the mixture on one piece of bread and then made a 'sandwich' with another piece of bread...dipped the whole thang in batter (egg + cream) and fried it in a skillet for 3-or-so minutes on each side. 


friends forevs! 
and please don't spoil the moment with "table syrup".
we live in canada, get the good stuff.

  

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

vp-t

vegetarian pad-thai is so ubiquitous on restaurant menus around the city, that maybe its acronym could be used instead of that long-winded name to save on ink costs. just a thought.


i'm not complaining about having the option and i appreciate the culinary cultural diversity, but getting vp-t at a restaurant is almost akin to ordering a bowl of kraft dinner. for one, it's usually comprised of 99% rice noodle (the cheapest ingredient) laden with super amounts of tasty (read: fatty) sauce. heavy on fat and refined carbs, and low on veg and protein. not so nutritious. in fact, it's probably the most caloric thing on the menu, (yes, maybe even more than that burger you're eyeing).
anyway, as much as it's a pain in the butt to clean up after, vp-t is cheap and easy to make. if you've never tried making it, you should. 
'cause i said so.
the nice thing about the home-made version is that you can customize it to your liking and load on lots of veggies to fill you up and make it an actual healthy meal.


do this:
fry minced garlic and cubed firm tofu in cooking oil, sesame oil, and some soy sauce. add whatever veggies you like (i used broccoli and red pepper) then throw half of your sauce in (all natural peanut butter, sesame oil, garlic, that asian hot sauce paste, fresh lime juice, garlic and ketchup-mixed well). 
cook your vermicelli rice noodles, 5-6 minutes should do it. then drain them. 
beat an egg and add it to your stir-fry. let it cook a bit, but do not omelettize your stir-fry. add the noodles, remaining sauce, and  get it all mixed up good.
the topping gets messy, but it's so necessary. chopped fresh cilantro and green onion, grated carrot, and fresh mung bean sprouts. it's like a salad on top of your meal. 
garnish with lime wedges galore. and crushed peanuts if you've got'em. trust.
pshya right! kd wishes.

afterthought out loud

forgive me if i didn't give dinner much thought the day after slaving over a hot stove to make an indian feast. geez. you're so demanding.
but hey. not giving dinner much thought does not have to equate to a bowl of cereal at 8pm.

i got home late from the gym knowing one thing only; i want bacon. for 2 reasons.
1. because it's bacon and thus, the tastiest food. 
and 2. because there is no greater sin than letting my delicious organic bacon go rancid in the fridge.
here is how my thought process progressed from that moment to the completion of my dinner.

mmm, bacon. it still smells ok. good. what else is in the fridge? bacon and carrots, ew. bacon and broccoli, ew. ...hmmm, bacon and pasta? ya that's yum. pasta and....pesto! yes....this basil is starting to turn brownish...and parsley. perfs. toast some pine nuts, cashews, walnuts...throw those bad boys in the food processor with the basil, parsley, olive oil and garlic. that's so legit. 
this box of pasta is at least 2 years old... what the hell am i saving it for? whatevs, dry pasta never goes bad, right? ...fry my little bacon! add the al dente pasta and fry it in bacon fat?...oh, clever. that's good. the dinner gods are smiling down on me today, oh yessiry....
crispy bacon-grease pantacce pasta... you complete me. 
in with some pesto. mix-y mix-y in the frying pan...op, on the plate with sea salt and fresh black pepper on top...and...a glass of red vino. how did that take only 20 minutes to make? 


i'm. in. heaven.
pretty much.





Tuesday, November 2, 2010

love me tandoor

indian food is delicious. that's a fact.
making it at home isn't that quick n' easy, but it's doable, and can look quite impressive when you've got company.
the flavouring ingredients that comprise the beginnings of pretty much every indian dish are: garlic, ginger, cumin, and turmeric. if you've got those in your kitchen, you're set. you may also want to have cardamom, cinnamon, and some kind of curry powder if you really want to get serious about this whole cooking thing.
as well, you MUST have basmati rice in the house. in general, but also specifically for indian food.
in my fridge i keep a couple of jars of chutney and tandoori paste that patak's (http://pataks.ca/) makes, because they really have their recipes down pat.
if you've never cooked indian, start with the basics, make a curry or rice and daal (cooked lentils). if you feel ready for more, then start experimenting. 
there she is, all baked up.
she could have been really tasty on the bbq as well.
there are lots of recipes online. don't fret.


the inspiration to cook an indian meal came from my little thawed-out cornish hen. i wanted to cook her differently than usual and 'tandoori' came to mind. i used patak's tandoori paste mixed with yogurt to slather the whole bird, then stuck her in the fridge overnight.




to accompany henny on her journey to my tummy i made: 
-spicy red and green lentil daal
-mushroom curry
-creamy saag
-raita
-and (obvi) basmati rice

the fruits of my labour can be seen below with a slice of store-bought garlic naan bread. 
no i didn't bake my own naan. 
seriously, enough is enough.