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.