Saturday, December 24, 2011

aligadget

if you have a problem with tomatoes, cucumbers, or lemon juice, you'd have a hard time finding something to eat in israel.
the 'israeli salad' is a staple here and is pretty much served in one form or another with breakfast, lunch, and dinner, at restaurants and homes alike. there's no escaping this.
i myself think it's great, and healthy to boot. but i've previously written about the patience it takes to construct a traditional version of this salad. diced tiny.
well, that was until i saw this incredible gadget at my great-aunt's house. the one she was rocking is called 'the alligator', but further product research uncovered a lot of 'sold-outedness' of that particular brand and lots of 'this-is-just-as-good' of other, similar products.
my apartment, replete with kitchen things and roommates, is home to one of these 'just as good' varieties. and it is! i used it the other day to make breakfast and let out some aggression. with one strong smack of the lid, a halved tomato turns into beautifully uniform salad components. add some cucumber and red pepper, lemon juice, olive oil, s&p, and you have yourselves an actual salad. amaze.
obviously the caveat is having to clean the salad genie after. a bigger challenge than running a knife under some hot water. but as my roommate says, (in my loose translation), there is no substitute for salad work.

alligator? crocodile.
typical.

Monday, December 19, 2011

feed the world

honestly, if it weren't for vh1 classic running a short segment of back-to-back christmas songs, i would have hardly noticed that there is less than a week to go until the 2-month old abscess of consumerist frenzy bursts into the new year. 
it ain't all bad though, the best part of christmas is approaching! the part where people get to spend time with their family, eat giant meals, and play scrabble. or if you're a jew; get to spend time with your adoptive christian family, eat giant meals, and play scrabble.  i can't believe i'm missing turkey and ck's lemon squares this year!
anyway, gifts are nice and all, but if you despise the whole shopping hysteria, and you want to give something straight from the heart/kitchen, then i've got something for you. (martha stewart probably has a million more, but i'm aiming for quality).
GRANOLA! i made some today, and just as an afterthought realized it's the cutest and most useful gift ever. ever.
right, so, you will need: rolled oats, raw nuts (hazel, brazil, macadamia, pecans, almonds...), seeds (sunflower, hemp, pumpkin...) , dried fruit (cran, raisins, figs, apricots, apple, pineapple, papaya...), vanilla extract, shredded coconut, maple syrup or brown sugar or honey, canola oil, some juice, cinnamon. annnd an adorable container (glass or tin).
i made apple chips in the oven: thinly sliced apples with lemon juice on a baking tray at 200C for about 30 minutes. you can also do this with pears, or bananas...easy enough, but you can also buy them.
in a large bowl mix 3 or 4 cups of oats with 2 cups of shredded coconut. add 1 tbsp of vanilla, 1 tbsp cinnamon, 2 tbsp oil, 2 tbsp juice, 2 tbsp sugar/honey/syrup. and then all the bite-sized fruit and nuts and seeds your heart desires. you can personalize these things for each recipient, and in the card, write just how much you think they are mango-currant-hemp. you're very welcome.
mixy mixy, spread evenly on a baking sheet and bake for 30ish minutes at 300C. every 10 minutes, give the granoles a good stir. the mixture should turn golden. it will become dry in the oven, but will crunch up even more when it cools. 

cran-apple-brazil-hazelnut. because that's how i roll(ed oats).
and how cute is this tin? i think it used to house chocolates.




Thursday, December 15, 2011

crunch time

so...croutons.
yeah i know, whoa! what? croutons!!? exciting!

but seriously next week i'm moving into an apartment (with 2 roommates-yiiikes!) and also a fully equipped kitchen i can call my own 3-way shared kitchen. so please excuse the lameness of this dinner item, but know that there is an important message behind this post and it has something to do with not wasting bread, but i'm too tired to be cute and clever about it. don't throw out your old bread, yo. make croutons.
fact: croutons you buy at the store are somehow a cajillion times more fattening and expensive and less tasty than croutons you make at home. 
so cut old bread into bite sized cubes. roll cubes on a baking sheet in olive oil, coarse salt, and any and all spices/herbs: thyme, rosemary, oregano, garlic powder...whatev flaves you like in your soup/salad accompaniment. spread bread cubes flat on the baking sheet and bake at 275C for 10 or so minutes while jiggling (not the word i want, but the word i'll nonetheless use) the cubes around for even baking.
watch those crouton cubes like they are a newborn infant: DO NOT LEAVE UNATTENDED!
they will burn. fast. see what happened to mine? almost burnt because of a text message.
ok, so i'll see you next week?


Sunday, December 4, 2011

spelled backwards

i love spelling. a little obsessively much. and this obsession is turning into an impediment for my hebrew literacy skills improvement. the hebrew alphabet is such, that several of the letters make more than one sound, and also many different letters make the same sound as one another, and this is bound to confuse me forever and stop me from attempting to write anything in fear that i will very likely spell it wrong. 
in english, on top of the type of sheer genius possessed by grade three spelling bee champions, i have a litany of tricks, rhymes, phrases, and silly sayings that help discourage mistakes (i before e, except after c...) whose hebrew counterparts i guess i better start learning.
one such helpful adage is fun as it incorporates the spelling of 3 different words in a wry nudge at sweet-toothed weight gain: desserts is stressed spelled backwards
1. dessert(s) 2. stressed, and 3. desert (by virtue of not being dessert). 
and with that absolutely painful introduction, here are two desserts that i made without any spelling mistakes, right here in israel.

exhibit a is a pavlova with chopped almond, dried fig and apricot, butterscotch brittle. broken on top of whipped cream, which was layered on top of my unsuccessful, but still pretty tasty, meringue. topped with more broken pieces of meringue, whipped cream, and then strawberries and mint. next door, in the glass bowl, is a guava mousse. made with the yolks of the meringued* egg whites, sugar, and steamed then pureed guava. topped with slices of persimmon. 
gosh, it's fun to have all these exotic fruits be not so exotic!
*when it comes to the spelling of made up words, it's first come first...makes up the spelling.



exhibit b is a triple chocolate birthday cake. standard chocolate cake (flour, sugar, eggs, 60% cocoa content chocolate melted in water, cocoa powder, butter, vanilla, salt, sugar, baking soda), chocolate frosting (cocoa powder, icing sugar, butter, milk) and a chocolate whipped cream centre (whipping cream, cocoa powder, sugar)...all tastefully decorated with candies and sprinkles to celebrate a quarter of a century in style.

eat dessert. don't stress.



Friday, November 25, 2011

holy landed

it is my goal, on this 25th day of the month of november, to have at least one blog post entered for nov 2011. i've been writing this humble blog for just over a year and have yet to skip an entire month, i'll be damned if i let it happen now.
the problem, and it may sound like quite the luxurious problem, is that since moving to israel at the beginning of the month i have hardly cooked an egg for myself. 
eating out in restaurants, from the lowliest to the highliest, is such an absolute pleasure in this country, that it has kind of replaced my love of cooking with the much more passive appreciation of other people's love of cooking. same goes for home-cooked meals prepared by family and friends. it's all so good here! i could should just photograph and talk about the unbelievable meals i've eaten here.
there must be something in the water. or in the lack thereof. i can't tell.
another impediment to my own cooking has been the absence of a kitchen. well, my own kitchen.
i can lend a hand and chop some veggies and here and there make a small executive cooking decision, but the kitchen is a sacred place and i dare not ambush and seize its use for my own ends. oh, and i am spoiled.

i managed to usurp power, just for one night, of a friend's kitchen and make a thai green curry with veggies and chicken on rice. coconut milk, green curry paste, and garlic as the base. eggplant, carrot, broccoli, zucchini, and mushrooms as the veggies. chicken breast as protein. topped with tasty fresh cilantro, chopped peanuts, and a squeeze of lime juice. all on a bed of white rice.


it was not only awesome to be back behind the burner, but also to have another set of hands washing, peeling, and cleaning up beside me.
until i get a kitchen of my own, i will certainly be in (several) good hands. 


 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

meritage

this past summer, i had the pleasure of being taken to niagara on the lake by one of the dearest people to me...my best friend. 
she packed us a lunch and took me on a romantic bike tour to different wineries where we excitedly urgently bought up a boat-load of vino (memories of the never-actualized LCBO strike a few years ago - just.in.case.)


standing in the cellar of lailey, a tiny winery with all-natural agricultural practices and a beautiful building lined with silvering white oak, i was getting a little tipsy and already planning the meal i would make to go with their tasty meritage wine. 
*meritage was the name given in the late 80's by some brilliantly creative minds (merit+heritage!?) in the napa valley to these bordeaux-style blended wines.


the lailey meritage, made with merlot, cab sauv, and cab franc grapes, is the kind of wine just aching to be served with mash potatoes and red meat...and so 3 months later, it was!




a soft and succulent, freshly butchered filet mignon cooked rare in a pan full of butter, then quickly set under the oven broiler with a bit of stilton cheese (HEAVEN!); butter blanched asparagus and enokitake mushrooms with salt and pepper; AND a double stuffed pototo! (SALIVATING)


instructions for the double stuffed potato:
-cut a large baking potato in half (1 potato for 2 people, 2 potatoes for 4...basic math, unless you're expecting an un-even number of guests..in which case, just say you're on a diet and skip the potato for yourself).
-bake the potato halves, or if you have a microwave (FAAANCY!) then cook them in there until soft. let cool.
-in a pot, fry some bacon bits (cut up bacon), then scoop out the soft insides of the potato (keep the skins intact for later) and mash the potato guts up in the same pot with the bacon. add sour cream, butter, milk, chopped green onion, salt and pepper, and mix together.
-re-scoop the mash into the potato skins and sprinkle with parmesan cheese, place parmesan-side-up under the oven broiler for a few minutes and take THAT the keg!


isn't it lovely when your memories can be poured into a glass and consumed with steak? 
oh wine! you complete the meals that make my life complete.
le'chaim.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

blue cod tacos

cod is not a blue fish. however, i don't know how to phrase the title of this blog post in a way that is less confusing about the ownership of 'blue'. it's the tacos that are blue, and not the cod fish, though it may sound otherwise.


now that we have that non-issue cleared up, i'm going to talk about these blue fish tacos a bit. mainly just to say that they were delicious.
with:
-freshly made salsa verde
-spicy corn salsa with chopped tomatoes, oven grilled pablano pepper (a large, mild chili pepper-grilled in an aluminum foil-lined baking pan with lime and garlic for flaves) and oven grilled corn (afterward cut from the cob-not cod), sauteed onions, salt and pepper.
-creamy guacamole with lime juice, sliced green onions, salt and pepper.
-cod cooked in a pan with some annatto oil, salt and pepper, and various juices from the creation of the salsas.
-fresh cilantro.



the blue corn tacos were gently heated in the oven so, still pliable, they could wrap their blue corn selves around ALL of the aforementioned goods.




Monday, October 17, 2011

life of pi

every smarty-pants likes to point out whenever possible that the plural of octopus is octopi, but what they probably don't know is that the plural of baby octopi is delicious. so, here's a lesson to all the smarty-pants out there.


baby octopus (i'm so over pluralization) looks freaky when you buy it fresh..apparently it comes frozen too, but would likely look freakier frozen into a pi-cube.

"look into my fake eye"
so, you buy them fresh, and then you wash them, and although i played with it a bit, i couldn't find the beak (ew gross, sea creatures have beaks), and they don't have plastic-y vertebrae like calamari do, so next step...throw them in a pan!



they (baby octopi) like to be seared on high heat almost to the point of charred. and they really like to do this in some annatto-infused olive oil (annatto seeds cooked into the olive oil until it takes on their rusty colour)...they told me so themselves.




they looked cooked and crunchy about 5-ish minutes later, but they were still tender and juicy in the middle and the head was like a little pocket of octopus juice. 
they were really tasty, but the consistency took some getting used to, not the tentacles, the head. 
i'm totally willing and able to try new recipes using baby octos now that we're more familiar friends...i hear they're great pickled!
and this would be a super fun tapas dish, and a good conversation starter if you want to put a smarty-pants in their place and tell them what's really up with octopodes.



Tuesday, October 11, 2011

thanks..and sea-ya!

dear sweet boyfriend of mine,
i'm leaving you for another country. i'm sorry. it's not you, it's me.
i need to be somewhere where the sun shines all year round. where there are beaches and palm trees and plenty of frozen yogurt topping options.
i need to have an adventure.


and thank you. for being so lovely, and for making me this seafood risotto and eating it on the couch with me because my kitchen table (and every other flat surface in my apartment) is covered with crap that needs packing.
thank you for painstakingly adding ladle-full after ladle-full of shrimp broth, butter, and white wine to the italian short grain rice in order to get it that creamy but al dente consistency. thank you for scrubbing the mussels so that we wouldn't get sick, and thanks for cooking them up with onions and garlic and more butter and sea salt. thanks for cooking the shrimp to perfection and then plating the whole thing so elegantly.
thank you.
you are the best.

"how lucky i am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard."


Thursday, September 29, 2011

pretty corny

is it not a little strange that 'cheesy' and 'corny' kinda mean the same thing, but are also two totally different foods that go incredibly well together? (nachos and cheese anyone?)
weeeeird.
one thing that falls under the category of 'corny' to me, is fancy shmancy food plating. 
the 3 seconds of "ooh" that a pretty-plated food item induces are SO not worth the awkward attempt at eating such an artistic undertaking. and anyway, i'm more into rustic.
maybe another reason i have a problem with pompous plating is because i'm plating challenged, as evidenced below.

LAME!
if only i had the patience....and an eye for food design.
the dinner tasted quite delish, but the dish looked a little squish. naw mean?


stealhead trout (so much more bad-ass sounding, but pretty much the same as, a rainbow trout) poached in miso/ginger broth for a few minutes. which i then drizzled in a touch of soy sauce, tamarind paste and sesame oil because apparently poached fish tasted like...nothing.
on a bed of (forgive my bourgeois-ness), butter sauteed fresh corn niblets and green onions  scaaaaallions with salt and pepper and steamed yu choy (chinese greens) with minced garlic.
check out the strips of nori (seaweed paper) and fresh scallion atop the fish...super fancy, right? ha!
i may have lost on presentation, but taste and nutrition were there...and 2 out of 3 ain't so bad!





Tuesday, September 27, 2011

pack light

i'm moving out of the country in about a month's time and am in the process of packing up all of my (many) earthly possessions to be removed from my apartment.
being the helpful chap that he is, my brother came over the other day to get me started on the seemingly unfathomable task. we packed up a few large boxes full of 'give-away' items, and i realized after a couple of sentimental pleas, that the process of removing 'things' from your life is incredibly cathartic and gets easier with each item. now i think i'm addicted to throwing my burdensome crap away! it truly makes you realize what's important and what's not. 


and on that note, you know what's important? a good dinner. a healthy one with all of nature's delicious offerings: texture, colour, taste, vitamins, FIBRE!
my bro is a pretty keep-fit guy, so i made us this healthy and quick dinner that wouldn't distract us from packing.





red and white quinoa, tempeh, sauteed carrots, pepper, and broccoli...and lest i forget the most important thing of all...family.
i'll miss you broski. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

heart of the matter

i guess it's my word against the imaginary grumblings about my lack of blogging presence, but you've got to believe that i've hardly eaten a meal at home in the past month.
as la-di-da as this may seem, it's only because i've been too busy slinging food for money, and mainly eating my meals at the food establishment where said slinging takes place. (excluding yogurt and musli and dried fruit, all of which make for a crappy blog post).
(yes, then i go and ruin a perfectly nice intro with my guilty-sounding job alibi. good one.)


so, the other night when i wasn't working, i was hanging with the boy in my life-who is in fact a cook, and at the same food establishment where i work (that's probably to blame for my blog laziness a bit too). with the obvious overlapping of our interests its a wonder we haven't had many culinary collaborations (probably due to my napoleonic approach to cooking) , but that particular night, i think we proved that good things can happen when there are too many cooks in the kitchen.


for $3, the boy picked up a beef heart at the local grocery store (a marvel that grocery stores are now regularly selling "variety meats"), to make up for the slices of beef heart that went rancid in my fridge a few weeks earlier. sad face.
because this heart was mainly intact (yes, a bit freaky) we then proceeded to watch a youtube tutorial on how to clean the meat. very helpful.
napoleon (yours truly) cleaned and filet-ed the meat into 1/4 inch thick slices.
we then used a very loose interpretation of a mario batali recipe to create a spicy marinade using chiles, balsamic vinegar, oil and garlic.
the slices of meat marinated for an hour in the fridge before going on the bbq for a few minutes on each side. grilled potatoes, mushrooms, zucchini, asparagus and green onion to go with.
the texture and taste were different from steak, but very much 'beef' tasting. it's lean and meaty and i would definitely recommend/eat again. if cleaning veins off the heart ain't your thing, get it pre-sliced at the butcher, you would never know it once had a beat.




for those of you put off by offal. consider this:
1. though texture and taste can differ depending on where a meat comes from, it's no weirder to eat the cow's heart than it is to eat the cows ribs or hip or wherever the heck your steak is coming from.
2. snout-to-tail eating is the coolest trend for economic, environmental, and foodie reasons. jump on it.
3. you've probably tried it before! if you've ever ordered a meat dish at a restaurant (say, at dim sum) and not been able to easily identify the meat, you were likely tucking in to some heart or some other weird thing...so what? you liked it!


come on. have a heart!





Tuesday, August 16, 2011

grill power!

i saw something disturbing in the news the other day. 
nope, it wasn't the horrible famine in somalia or the sucky state of the stock market, it was a photo in the lifestyle section of 4 pretty women heartily digging into their salads with a caption that read something like barbequeing is for men "summer is all about good friends, fine wine, and grilled foods. that's if you can conquer the fear of lighting the propane bbq, [you simple-minded, salad-loving women]".
of course, i did not read on.
i'm not sure what silly social construct has allowed this mockery to be made of women, (must have something to do with the general lack of skill, patience, and preparation that it takes to "man" a barbeque - way to snag that one, guys!) but i know plenty of lady folk who love themselves a good grillin' and are not too 'chicken' to fire one up. so men who are "good at barbequing", and dumb-dumbs who write captions like that one, take your beer and go pretend to be hard at work elsewhere. alright, enough of this 'beef'...


light and alit! a lovely lunch for ladies!


as i mentioned, bbq-ing is easy. the hardest part of it might be owning a bbq in the first place, but once that's covered, you're pretty much good to go.
this lunch was the easiest to make, ever: 
1. light the bbq.
2. drizzle whole, fresh sardines and veggies with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and give them a sprinkling of sea salt.
3. place on grill.
4. flip.
5. remove.
whoa! how did she?! wha? oh my goodness, THAT'S not a salad!


with some quinoa pasta in olive oil, fresh basil, and garlic, boom-POW! this meal is on fiya! high in omega-3 and totally gender neutral. food of the future.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

let's call the callin' off, off!

you say "tom-ay-tow" and i say "tom-ah-tow"...more like, you say "tomato", and i say, "what colour?" 
fa real.


there's a farmers' market (i'm OBSESSED!) on my way to work on tuesdays that i like to stop at.
last week it was a pint of multi-coloured heirloom tomatoes that caught my eye and holy crap they were so amazing.
purple, orange, yellow, greeny stripe, classic red...ALL the colours and ALL the flavour! it really does make a difference when your fruit and veggies are grown in real soil and ripen naturally on the sunny vine...they taste like, how do i put this?, real!


to showcase their beauty, i sliced these tomates (hard t, en francais) good n' thick so as not to muss them up too much. just a nice caprese salad with fresh basil, mozza, olive oil and sea salt.





i kinda wish i'd taken a 'before' photo of the painfully awkward prepubescent cucumber-looking squash with all its bristly peach fuzz before i peeled, cut it into thin strips, and fried it in a bit of roasted almond oil...ah well. it gave the spelt spaghetti and straight from italy pesto some freshness and paired nicely with the simple and succulent salmon filet that i baked with a slather of smoky maple mustard and cayenne pepper. (always a sucker for alliteration).


topped off with a glass of rosé, there's absolutely no arguing at this dinner table. certainly not about the pronunciation of tomatoes. 


  

Monday, July 18, 2011

spaghetti eastern

i likes the food. all of it, pretty much. so finding new food to like is easy and as frequent as my trips to chinatown.
check out this weird pasta i found!


turn your head, i can't deal with this technical issue right now.
the dry rice pasta product can be viewed (sideways) from behind the interesting instructions, which i of course followed because this is like no other rice pasta i've ever seen or cooked.
though i may have soaked it a tad too long for summer, (huh?), my diligence payed off. 
the result was dim sum meets pasta bolognese in a collision of grease. pretty much the same as being wrapped in a soothing blanket of calories. mmmmm. 
at least i had that salad a few days ago.




as per the instructions:
- i soaked the pasta in water overnight (ok, maybe it was over 2 nights, but whatever).
to prepare (also, kind of according to instruction): 
- i fried some garlic, onion, and ginger in a bit of oil, then added chopped yellow zucchini, and a 'maple and chinese 5 spice' sausage *ya, i've never seen that at my butcher's before, it was serendipitous. to 'sauce' it up, i used a bit of sesame oil, soy sauce, and of course, whole green chili peppers!
- i let the whole thing cook in its delicious fat and then served it up for a pal with some fresh cut tomatoes, course salt, and thai basil to add a bit of freshness.


the consistency of the pasta, once cooked, was much like the soft, chewy, offerings of chinese dim sum, totally pleasing and not too heavy.


yum yum gimme sum!

Monday, July 11, 2011

health (drop) kick

go big or go home! am i right?
when it comes to "health food", salad has been locked in at numero uno for EVER. so much so, that even if you take a bunch of nutrient-poor lettuce, smother it in calorie-rich, creamy dressing, add some of the most delicious/fatty toppings: bacon, croutons, and cheese...you can still fool most people into opting for this "light" alternative to a meal. 
i'm looking at you caesar.
sure, fat is good for you, but let's be real here, there's a reason why bacon and almonds don't taste the same.


here's my salad solution! expect it to taste good. don't expect it to taste like a bacon cheeseburger.
and when it comes to salads, creativity is key. if you hate tomatoes, you don't have to put them in your salad! add a different veggie. if you hate ALL vegetables, suck it up! life isn't all rainbows and unicorns, you'll learn to like them.




check it out!
i braised some chopped green cabbage, purple kale, sprouted mung beans *read more about these here* and onion in a little bit of olive oil, sesame oil, white vinegar, and water. -this helps start the process of breaking down the otherwise difficult to digest mountains of fibre in these foods.
then i added shredded carrot and beet, and salt and pepper to taste. SOOOO much fibre!! (i'm obsessed)


ya, it's a salad.
not a leaf of lettuce nor a slice of tomato in sight.


what of it?



Tuesday, July 5, 2011

dads are rad

there's nothing like going to a food industry event where everyone is discussing their latest blog/article/publication about food to make you go, "blog?, what the eff kind of - oh ya....i used to write one of those!" and be thoroughly ashamed of your lack of content updating. trust.
well here i am! ready to write my wrongs.


first off, i'm fully aware i am being exposed as the weather opportunist that i am, and i'm owning up to that. second, i just checked my views and i gotta say a big WHAT UP, UKRAINE!!!?! i don't know how you heard about this blog, but thanks for stopping by, friends!


ok. apologies aside (i AM sorry), i'm going to show you my tricks for keeping your name in the will. be it father's day, mother's day, or any old day you want your parents to remember that they didn't make a horrible mistake when they opted to reproduce, you'll want it to be special, effort is key.
here is the dinner my bro and i made for father's day. i'm giving little bro credit where it is not due, but that's just one of the awesome things about being an awesome older sister, right?


on father's day eve we appetized with heirloom tomato slices topped with avocado, basil, bocconcini, fresh ground pepper and olive oil and balsamic drizzled on top. that, with mom's home-made poppy seed bread, was kinda amazing.




i'll admit that i struggled with the main course. i had king crab legs, fresh pasta, mushrooms, giant shrimp..and not a clue what i was going to make of all these promising ingredients.
i ended up sauteing the mushrooms with butter, garlic, thyme, and cambozola cheese (camembert/gorgonzola hybrid? oh, you haven't lived). and then pureeing it to make a pasta sauce. huh? ya. i did it.
then i cooked the fiddle heads (don't even get me started on those damn things) read what health canada has to say about fiddleheads. those folks know what they're talking about, right?
anyway, i cooked the fiddleheads with garlic, and the shrimp with parsley and garlic, and the crab legs with butter and garlic. if you want to make something taste good, put garlic on it*.
*in my opinion.
salt, pepper, chili flakes. the dish is complete.





the next day, on father's day proper, there was a breakfast replete with oat pancakes, eggs, veggies, fruit and cappuccinos. 


kill them with kindness, and ye shall receive the inheritance.



love ya dad and mom!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

look-out, cookout!

summa-time...and the livin' is easy....
i don't know about the height of cotton, or the state of airborne fish, but my rich daddy and my good-lookin' mama came over for dinner tonight, and we had ourselves what is known down south as a "cookout", but what we canadians like to call a good ol' fashioned bbq.
my ma and da are great people and really fabulous parents to me and my brother, so, every once in a while it's nice to show them my appreciation with some grilled meats.
mom wanted to go out for burgers, but i would have none of it!
instead, i boiled a rack of ribs in water with onion and peppercorns. after i removed it from said boiling water, i slathered with bbq sauce, smokey maple mustard, and minced garlic. ready to grill!
the slaw is: cabbage, carrot, green onion, red pepper, mayo, olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
the potater salad is: new potatoes, green beans, peas, carrots, corn (the frozen variety...it's so damn easy), fried bacon, green onion, mayo, white balsamic vinegar, chopped mint, salt and pepper. my favourite potato salad ingredient, pickle, was missing, but it tasted really good without.
the grilled tomato and portabello mushroom...no brainer.


contrary to skills-improvement methodology, and simple logic, the more photos i take of food, the worse i get at it.


father's day is approaching. get on it kids!









Thursday, June 9, 2011

tempeh. tempted?

first, let me apologize (only a little) for maybe coming off a bit preachy in my last post. i want to inform, not preach, but sometimes being a little righteous is just so in my nature.
right, now let me spread the gospel.


if you've had a day/week of poor eating or your diet is generally lacking in vegetables, this is a meal that'll turn your frown (the one in your stomach, because it's sad...), upside down! this meal is vegan friendly. happy tummy!


1! (yes, i'm planning on exclaiming each point). pierce a whole spaghetti squash and place in the oven for around 45 minutes at 350C! *i like to do this while i'm baking something else in there...energy efficient, yes?
2! let the squash cool, then cut in half, remove seeds and scrape out "spaghetti" with a large spoon! *spaghetti squash is called so because of its noodle-like insides. cool!
3! make pesto! or buy it..i make mine pretty healthy, with no cheese and very little oil. *wash basil leaves and flat leaf parsley, peel a few cloves of garlic, and roast pine nuts. place in a food processor with some olive oil, raw walnuts, and sea salt, i added a chili pepper too (jeez, when do i not!?) and blend the life out of it.
4! finely chop a portabello mushroom, red pepper, and sun-dried tomato (also good would be zucchini, olives, artichoke, asparagus..veggies, basically) and throw them in a hot pan with a little cooking oil!
5! cube tempeh (a fermented soy product you can find at most grocery and health food stores) and throw it in the pan too!
*if you want to keep it clean and looking good, once those veggies and tempeh are cooked to your liking, remove them and move to the next step. if you're a little pressed for time, or lazy, then throw the squash in there with everything else, and proceed.
6! cook spaghetti squash with a couple of tablespoons of pesto until it's amalgamated and good looking. *not a long time.
7! plate and eat!


like i mentioned, i cooked it all together, so unfortunately the photo representation of this dinner will not be so appealing, nor its ingredients easily deciphered. but with a little faith, you will try this at home, taste it for yourselves, and agree that it's a pretty yummy meal even if not so easy on the eyes.

use your imagination, okay?


Friday, June 3, 2011

play along!

when it comes to farmers markets, i'm a total groupie.
in my star-struck eyes, if you live in rural bumpkin land, wake up at 5am every day, and have hard-earned dirt under your fingernails, you may as well be madonna.
during the summers (YESSSS!!! it's finally here!!!) i try to frequent farmers markets as much as possible to get local, organic fare and close encounters with my idols. 
if you live in a big city, farmers markets are probably happening in places you didn't even know. if you don't live in a big city, you might very well live near a farm. lucky you! here's a list of toronto farmers markets, but check out similar sites for other cities, you may be surprised by how easy and accessible they are. 
cheap, they are not. but having said that...this is the real price of good food people, and while you may not do your entire week of groceries at the farmers market, it's really awesome to support local farmers and to eat food that hasn't been shipped a million miles, or fed a diet that makes it sick, or pumped up with hormones and slathered with pesticides. we all make these BIG choices with our little dollas. plus, they're rock stars. just sayin'.


i was fawning over a couple of un-stylishly dressed, overly sunned dudes at a farmers market just yesterday. they were selling beautiful asparagus and lamb. what a pairing, right!? one of them even gave me pointers about cooking the lamb. 
farmers! they are sooo down to earth! 
here's the resulting dinner.


just look at them asparagus!!
there's that beautiful market fresh lamb chop, marinated for about an hour in some lemon juice, olive oil, and chopped fresh mint, then seared in a pan on both sides for a few minutes and placed in the oven to cook for another few minutes. local asparagus the length of my arm which i simply blanched in boiling water alongside non-local carrot and then drizzled with lemon juice.
non-farmers market red new potatoes were tossed in olive oil sea salt and fresh rosemary, then roasted in the oven at 350C for an hour. 
so you see, the whole food debate is really a compromise that considers convenience, taste, ethics, environment, local economy, home economics, and possibly a great number of other factors. easy peasy! 
(basically, do whatever helps you sleep at night, but just try to stay aware that there is a before and after to your food and food choices.)


and on another note, i've never walked into a grocery store with my bare feet in the grass, the sun shining overhead, and a drum circle totally killing it with their supple wrists.


rock n' roll.






Sunday, May 29, 2011

rat-tat-tat-touille

you know what i'm saying, that like, every time i hear the term 'nightshades' i'm reminded of a certain nostalgic bob seger song? ya you do! it's 'cause we totally think the same.


anyway. the family of plants that bear this moniker are referred to more scientifically as 'solanaceae' and will likely NOT help with making the front page drive-in news, nor with losing those awkward teenage blues, though on second thought, some nightshade plants contain toxic, possibly deadly, alkaloids...eek.. 
riiight. point? edible nightshades account for most of the veggies that constitute a proper ratatouille, so take note.


ratatouille is an animated pixar movie about a rat with ambitions of becoming a chef. yuck-o. 
ratatouille is also a french dish which is basically a cook-down of zucchini (not a nightshade), tomato, eggplant, peppers (nightshades), flavoured by onion, garlic, fresh thyme, salt/pepper, and i added worcestershire sauce because i'm a bad-ass. yum-o.
i also added a spicy sausage. that's just how i roll.
the whole thing cooked in some olive oil for aprox 20 minutes and was then laid upon a bed of brown rice for my mouth to enjoy. a healthy, hearty, flavourful meal. 
unless you're allergic to nightshades, in which case, keep off the 'touille.


with summer slowwwwwwwly approaching, and these veggies growing in the garden and cropping up in farmers markets, it's time to get local on your produce and work on those nightshades.



Monday, May 23, 2011

i-tell-ya!

recently i've (always) been obsessed with italy, italian food, and the possibility of finding an italian husband to make an honest italian citizen woman out of me.
my first, and thus far only visit to italy a couple of years back was so highly anticipated, that it had every opportunity to disappoint. instead, it exceeded all of my expectations. the best food, art, architecture, shoes, and gelato. what else does a person need?


so, when a close family friend cum new bestie told me about her plans to become a tuscan farm-hand, i reminded her that 4 hands are better than 2 and she better take me with her.
i'd like to fantasize that the job description for farm-hand reads something like: "must be able ride bike through rolling vineyards in cute flowing skirts while giggling", but i have a feeling i'm way off. there's probably some seriously early mornings and manual labour involved. hm.


thinking.


ok. either way, the four hands began preparation for our voyage in my kitchen this evening. in what seemed like no time at all, and whilst submersed in intense conversation, we prepared this glorious, un-planned meal. behold!


if this photo is rotated left, blame blogger. that's what i'mma do.
yummo yummo! am i right!?


up there on the plate we've got a thigh of chicken, wrapped in pancetta, cooked with sliced porcini mushrooms and garlic in butter, rosemary and red wine.
moving clockwise, that's braised potato and tomato. mmmm. 
some wilted spinach with lemon juice and sea salt, and a (gigantic) shrimp scampi, sauted in butter, garlic, and fresh parsley and basil.


italian food is so perfect! with just a few easy ingredients you can prepare the most enjoyable meal in no time. 
not too rich, simple, and beautifully rustic. like a lunch-time picnic in the orchard followed by a fruit-tree shaded nap. ah. 
italy, i think i'm ready for ya!



Wednesday, May 4, 2011

flour power!

as you may or may not know. i love maple syrup. maple syrup is nature's way of saying "congrats for having figured out the process of boiling sap, humans!" sooo clever of us! (taking credit from historic humans who are too dead to defend themselves...that's super honourable).
now, i know i've waxed poetic in these virtual pages about crepes and pancakes and waffles in the past, but today i want to offer a couple of options that get the syrup in your mouth without any wheat. maple syrup a la gluten free.


sometimes it sounds like a lame diet excuse, but gluten intolerance and celiac disease are for reals. i suffer from neither, but i know that some people do, and that it can put limitations on your diet when you aren't able to eat any of the many food items that contain gluten (the protein in wheat, barley, and rye).
so, without further ado, i present you with your breakfast menu options:


1) oat n' flax pancakes

2) vegan buckwheat crepes


oats don't officially contain gluten, but are often cross-contaminated by other gluten-containing products. unless they are tested to have less than a zilllionth of a percent of gluten (not the actual number), then they aren't technically allowed to be called "gluten free". check your labels.
anyway, i use a coffee grinder (which has probably ground up everything BUT coffee) to crush my rolled oats into a nice fine oat flour. this process takes about 3 seconds. i then add an egg, oil, milk, cinnamon, and baking powder. voila, pancake batter. you know what to do from there, right? i'll give you a hint, it starts with an 's' and rhymes with 'kill it'.


egg is another thing that people are sometimes allergic to. so, if you're someone who's body has decided to reject the world's offerings of protein, you can shove yourself full of these vegan buckwheat crepes and then look down at your tummy and say "take that!", that's what i'd do.


the tricky part is finding an analog for eggs. eggs are a pretty special contribution to baking and cooking. 
because of their incredible rising and binding properties they are essential to creating fluffy masses of edible thing. but as the next best thing... i used ground flax (thanks coffee grinder!) to which i added some water and, with a fork, whipped up into a 'mucus' (thanks for the advice and the choice in words mom!). the flax goop can be used as an egg substitute. you can also use mashed bananas, but alas, i chose wisely to save those for making choco-chip banana bread.
add the gooey flax to some buckwheat flour (c-g. back at it!) *buckwheat, also known as soba or kasha, is, despite its wildly misleading name, not a wheat in any way. it's a seed, and has a sweet, almond-like flavour. 
Mix with water or soy/almond milk, oil, and cinnamon. then pour and gently spread around on a super hot pan. flip. remove. consume with fresh strawberries and the good stuff.
if you like to use your coffee grinder to grind coffee, then feel free to buy oat and buckwheat flour at your local bulk/health food store.


see ya swheaties.