Sunday, December 26, 2010
I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas, I know I did. I had a wonderful time with my family on Christmas day. So much food. Our fridge is busting. For my birthday (Boxing day), instead of having turkey leftovers, we had a steak dinner. My usual Birthday dinner is salmon but this year I threw out the idea of grass fed beef. I wasn't sure whether this would actually happen since it is sometimes hard to find and expensive, but my Dad took it upon himself to visit Whole Foods. Then, he got Whole Foods syndrome and purchased a few grass fed steaks. Whole Foods syndrome is where you spend too much money on organic/specialty food due to the excitement of being in Whole Foods.
Now I am no expert on beef, but I do know (or think I know) that grass fed beef tends to dry out faster. After telling my dad this he decided to make a marinade using papaya juice. Something to note about my Dad is that he gets really into things sometimes. One of these things would be steak marinades. He once had a steak that had papaya juice in the marinade and loved it. He has now been waiting for the day where he could do the same. And yesterday was that day. Here is a make-shift recipe of the marinade my Dad used:
Marinated Grass Fed Beef
bbq sauce or store-bought marinade
The steaks were marinaded for about 6 hours and the BBQd. They turned out wonderful! The grass fed beef was very moist even when cooked to my liking (well done). Besides being more tender, I found it difficult to discern any real differences in the grass fed beef.
All I can say is that it was delicious, and probably had a better nutritional profile. Grass fed beef tends to have less total fat, cholesterol, saturated fat, and more omega-3s than typical grain-fed beef. Bonus! [Source]
Has anyone seen the video on youtube, where the kid gets books for Christmas? It was kind of a running joke the past couple days, as with Christmas and my Birthday I was given 5 books and bought myself 2! I love each and every one of them. Most are cook books or food related, and one is a Women's Health workout encyclopedia (encycloPAYdia for all you HIMYM fans).
This means that I will have lots of cooking and baking (and reading) to do in the new year! I cannot wait! I hope to do lots of experimenting in the kitchen. Using new spices, grains, vegetables etc! I have started reading Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson and am already inspired to follow some of the recipes.
Keep on enjoying the Holiday season!!
Thursday, December 23, 2010
I decided to make rice paper salad rolls. I decided this after flipping through a book my Grandmother gave me for Christmas, called 'The Complete Illustrated Book of Herbs' by Reader's Digest. There was a recipe for the classic salad roll with cilantro and mint. Looked wonderful! One problem though. I cannot stand cilantro. So something different had to be done. The result was these Goat Cheese Salad Rice Paper Rolls:
Goat Cheese Salad Rice Paper Rolls:
rice paper (small size)
cucumber, sliced julienne
carrots, matchstick cut
muschrooms, chopped finely
sweet chili sauce, for dipping
1. Dip rice paper in warm water until soft to roll. Shake to remove excess water.
2. Put goat cheese in a row on the middle of one side of paper.
3. Top with veggies. I used cucumber, carrot, mushrooms and alfalfa sprouts.
4. Wrap it up. Fold up the one side, then the bottom, and then follow with the other side. Rice paper is actually really easy to work with and after a couple you get the hang of it. It sticks together so they hold fairly well.
5. Serve chilled with sweet chili dipping sauce.
These make for a great appetizer at any holiday party. My Mom requested I make these on Christmas eve! I imagine making many different varieties of them in the future. Since the package seemed to come with a thousand pieces of rice paper, this is definitely going to happen.
Well, tomorrow is Christmas Eve! I hope everyone has a wonderful evening with family, friends, and fantastic food and drink!
Monday, November 29, 2010
What also made this soup exciting was that I literally emptied my crisper and made a dent on my pantry while making it. I was just grabbing veggies, cans, and jars left right and center. To my pleasant surprise it turned out rather delicious and not so surprisingly, very hearty.
Lentil and Black Bean Vegetable Soup
1 carton vegetable broth
1 can of stewed tomatoes
water (about a tomato can full)
1 can black beans
red lentils (1/2 cup?)
1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 crown broccoli, chopped
1 can sliced mushrooms
1 can corn
4 celery stalks, chopped
1 bunch of kale, chopped
dried chili pepper
1. Heat broth, stewed tomatoes, and broth on medium-high until a simmer is reached.
2. Add all veggies (except for kale), black beans and lentils.
3. Once a simmer is reached, reduce heat to medium-low and add spices. I don't remember the measurements but it was about 2:2:1 for cumin to garlic powder to coriander. I just sprinkled them on there. Then the chili pepper and cayenne pepper is to your own taste. Depends on how hot you like it!
4. Simmer for 30 minutes or so until the lentils and squash are soft.
5. Add the kale and simmer for another 10-15 minutes.
I have quite the lineup of food photos for you. I don't think this one post a week deal is nearly enough to handle them. Hopefully I will be able to post some more as the term comes to an end and the Holidays begin!
Sunday, November 21, 2010
I headed over to Oh She Glows because I am always envious of her breakfasts. I saw her recipe for a Grilled Cashew Butter and Blueberry Sandwich. Now, here is the problem. I took a week off from peanut butter. Hard to believe but I went 4 days without it! (ok so I failed at making it a whole week..but baby steps!). This was only accomplished because I didn't actually have any in the house (the only way this could be accomplished). I liked the grilled sandwich idea but I wanted to throw some eggs into the mix, and had to make a substitution for the peanut butter. This resulted in a Goat Cheese and Jam French Toast Sandwich.
Goat Cheese and Jam French Toast Sandwich
2 slices of bread
soft unripened goat cheese
jam (I used pomegranate berry)
splash of milk
Spread the goat cheese on one slice and the jam on the other. Put the slices together like a sandwich (these are very complex directions, so pay attention ;). Beat the egg with some milk in a bowl. Dip each side of the sandwich in the egg mixture and place on a medium-heat pan. After a few minutes (peak to see when it is nice and browned), flip the sandwich (being careful that the two sides down separate) and cook the other side.
Looking at the weather for the week it is going to be rainy, then cold, then possibly snow for the first time this season here in southern Ontario :). I guess this means I should share another soup recipe soon!
Sunday, November 14, 2010
It all starts with a pot.
I love this pot. Not only because it was a fantastic deal at the time but it was the first pot/pan I ever bought for myself. It consistently provides me with fantastic soups, stews and sauces. Obviously due to the pot itself.
Then you need some ingredients. This is what I used (I ended up not using the stewed tomatoes and also added kale and spinach).
Vegetable and Chickpea Soup:
1 tbsp olive oil
1/3 onion, chopped
2 small zucchini, chopped
2 cartons of vegetable broth
1 can of chickpeas
potatoes, cut up into bite sized pieces
1 stalk of kale, chopped
chopped spinach (I used frozen nuggets - about 8-10)
3 bay leaves
1 tsp basil
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp rosemary
pepper to taste
1. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute for a few minutes.
2. Add the carrots and zucchini and saute until soft. The zucchini could also be added later so they maintain some structure but I like it when they are mushy in the soup.
3. Add vegetable broth and chickpeas. Once the broth begins to boil reduce to medium-low so the soup is simmering and add the potatoes and the spices. Cover.
4. Simmer for about 5 to 10 minutes and then add the kale and spinach. Cover.
5. Simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes until the potatoes are soft.
Monday, November 8, 2010
Montreal was fantastic! We had some interesting living arrangements but had a great time at the course. I love the city and want to visit again in the winter becuase I think old Montreal would be beautiful covered in snow. To save some money we took a trip to the grocery store upon arrival. I sustained most days off of hard boiled eggs, bread, cottage cheese, peanut butter, apples, bananas, and oatmeal (how exciting, haha). Can't say I came up with any novel recipes with that grocery list.
We did manage to have a few nights out for dinner. The highlight of our dining experiences was Gorgio's in Old Montreal.
Not only was the restaurant in a dungeon with an interesting history, but it was BYOW with no corking fee, and had a menu consisting of $10 pizza and pasta. I had pizza with pesto, provalone cheese, peppers, onions and sausage. The crust was thinner than I prefer but was delicious none-the-less.
The building was an old schoolhouse and then was used to store the firs for the Hudson's Bay Company. Pretty cool I'd say!
Down the street from our hostel was a restaurant O.NOIR which I have heard about but never seen. No one was daring enough to go with me but I DEFINITELY want to go to Toronto location sometime in the future. There was also a frozen yogurt shop down the street called Yeh! It was a great concept! They had tons of flavours to choose from and it was self serve. You could mix whatever flavours you wanted and then you paid by the weight. They had every topping you could ever want including fresh fruit! It was a nice change from our usual TCBY fare.
After a very long trip back from Montreal I had a few days to recover from the severe lack of sleep that resulted from staying up until 3 am and waking up at 7 am the last few days in Montreal. Then it was time to head to Toronto to attend a conference. Across the street from the conference there was a gourmet burrito place that we tried for lunch one day. It was called Z-Teca.
Now as you probably know, I LOVE burritos. This place had a really neat concept and tasted very fresh and somewhat healthier than your usual burrito. I had a vegetarian burrito with roasted tomatillo & jalapeno salsa which was delicious.
There was something missing however and it is hard to put my finger on it. It probably was a combination of using regular black beans instead of refried beans and the slight under-grilling. I would have liked it to be a bit crisper. While not better than Burrito Boyz, still better than any burrito I have made (see rice paper burrito fail).
On our last night in Toronto we walked along Harbord St. in attempts to find some good pizza. We found it at a place called Pizza Gigi. Great price and fantastic pizza! We ordered a whole pizza but the pre-made slices looked to-die-for. I see this place being a great late-night stop after a night out. The man that made ALL the pizza's (we witnessed TONS of phone orders while waiting for our pizza; a very popular delivery place I suspect) was grumpy and Italian, which is probably how it should be.
With all the eating out the last couple weeks I was looking forward to cooking. I made a nice big pot of soup today which will last me all week I am sure. Keep an eye out for the recipe!
Sunday, October 24, 2010
I did learn how to use the artichoke. I had plans all week to saute it in some butter and garlic. It would have been delicious I am sure. Not only did I not get to use my artichoke this week but most of my meals consisted of grilled sandwiches and kale chips. I am glad my super busy week is over and I can resume to cooking up some new recipes, when I return from Montreal of course.
I will hopefully have some excellent food experiences in Montreal that I will share upon my return, or maybe even mid trip.
Monday, October 18, 2010
A while back my Nonna made me a pasta dish with no sauce, and was dressed with some olive oil and canned clams. I LOVED it! I made it once after that and then totally forgot about the potential of canned clams. They went on sale at the grocery store a couple weeks back and I remembered how much I loved them. I sauted up some garlic, chili pepper, onions, mushrooms, and broccoli, and then added the drained canned clams. Once all the veggies were tender and the calms were hot, I added some cooked rice noodles and tossed until mixed well. Any noodle would work well here but I liked the tenderness of the rice noodle.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Thanksgiving dinner this year was at my Aunt's house in Waterloo. They live in a beautiful neighbourhood with lots of very large old trees. This makes for beautiful scenery for a Thanksgiving feast. It was so warm out so we got to sit outside. The sun was shining and there were barely clouds in the sky! Here are some pictures from our day of thanks...
I am thankful for my aunt and cousin for cooking all the delicious food!
I am thankful for roasted red peppers from my Tatone's garden.
I am also thankful for cookies!
We had vegan chocolate raspberry (by cousin Diana)
Oatmeal, biscotti, pizzelli (by Nonna), and pumpkin spice cookies (by me). The pumpkin spice cookies was a hybrid of two recipes. The cookie was very soft and almost muffin like. I would love to play around with the recipe some more to make a crispier cookie which I much prefer. Here is the recipe as it stands so far.
Pumpkin Spice Cookies adapted from the Voracious Vegan and Vegan by Valerie
¾ cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
½ cup wheat bran
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
3 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
2 Tbsp vanilla
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/4 cup butter
¼ cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
granulated sugar for coating cookie
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 2 cookie sheets.
2. Mix dry ingredients.
3. Mix wet ingredients. It is difficult to mix the butter well into the wet ingredients.
4. Mix wet ingredients into the flour mixture in two portions. Mix well until fully blended. The batter is pretty sticky and wet (kind of like cake batter). It also tastes delicious by the way.
5. Roll into 1 inch diameter balls and roll lightly in sugar. Place on cookie sheet and flatten with a fork in a crisscross pattern.
6. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Allow to cool before removing from the pan.
These cookies are chewy and soft, if you are into that sort of thing. Next time I am going to cut back on the oil and butter and see where that takes me. I will let you know how it turns out. Since I have so much leftover pumpkin puree I may just make another batch this week ;)
It was a wonderful Thanksgiving and I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving too!
Saturday, October 9, 2010
Now onto the pizza. I have yet to tackle making my own pizza dough. One day I will attempt it but for today Fortinos fresh whole-wheat pizza dough did the trick. Store bought pizza sauce would do as well.
1. Fire up the BBQ and let it get really hot!
2. Roll out the dough into preferred thickness and size.
3. Place onto hot grill.
Once the bottom is cooked, the outer edges are almost cooked and the middle is still soft, remove the crust from the grill, uncooked side down (rotate halfway through cooking time).
4. Place your toppings onto the grilled side. We added sauce, mozzarella, pepperoni, veggies (green pepper, onion, mushrooms, hot peppers), then Romano cheese.
5. Put pizzas back on the grill and close the lid to allow the cheese melt while the bottom is cooking.
Once the cheese is melted and the bottom has the desired colour, it is done!
While the sauce was a little bland, the pizza was delicious and satisfied my desire for some cheesy pizza.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
You will also notice the lack of measurements. This is due to the fact that I was hungry and impatient, what else is new.
1 very large ripe eggplant
quick rolled oats
Slice the eggplant into thick pieces (3/4 inch?). Layer slices in a colander sprinkling with salt in between layers. Place a heavy item on top and allow to sit for 30 to 60 minutes to draw out any excess water. Wipe slices dry with paper towel. Lightly grease a baking sheet with oil and preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Mix together about 1:1 of breadcrumbs to oats. (I only added oats becuase I ran out of bread crumbs but it turned out quite nice). Sprinkle basil, oregano, parsley, garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste.
While this was all happening I was also making some sauce. Very similar to the recipe I posted a while back (found here). With these soft delicious eggplant slices you could layer with some sauce and parmesan and bake some more, OR you could make a sandwich.
Now as promised, here is a series of pictures from the past week.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Cacciatore in Italian means "hunter" and chicken cacciatore means a chicken dish prepared hunter style. This dates back to when hunters would go out for days on end to hunt for meat. Their meals would consist of meat cooked with whatever vegetables they could gather and of course, wine. I would say my recipe is quite authentic in this case...minus the hunting part. This makes me happy. I just wish my Grandparent's could have given it a taste, as I thought it was delicious.
This recipe is very easy, so some of the quantities are vague becuase I just threw stuff in. There is a lot of wiggle room here. As long as you use quality ingredients you will get quality results. This is especially true when it comes to the tomatoes.
3 ripe plum tomatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
2 chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
cm of chili pepper
2 cloves of garlic
2 small leeks
1 celery stalk
1 small chinese eggplant
roasted red peppers (I used about 1/3 of a ziploc bag full - about 3 Shepard peppers) *
To remove skin and seeds from tomato:
Bring a pot of water to a boil, leaving enough room for tomatoes. Make very shallow slices all around the tomato to make a cross shape. Add tomatoes to boiling water. Boil until skin starts to peel back, a minute or two. The riper the tomatoes are, the quicker this will happen. Remove from water and allow to cool. Peel off the skin and cut off the tough stem areas.
Cut into quarters. Remove seeds and put into a fine strainer over a bowl. Cut remaining tomato flesh into bite sized pieces. Once all the tomatoes have been seeded, move the fleshy seeds around in the strainer to remove all the juices. Add these juices to the diced tomatoes.
Heat olive oil in saucepan over medium-high heat. Add pieces of chicken breast and cook for 5-8 minutes until almost cooked through.
Add chili pepper and garlic and saute for 3 minutes. Add leeks, carrots, celery, and eggplant.
Cook until vegetables are beginning to brown. Add tomatoes and roasted red pepper.
Once simmering, add a splash of red wine and stir.
Allow sauce to simmer for about 20 minutes, until desired consistency is reached.
This can be served on it's own or with any kind of bread or pasta. I had it on couscous with Asiago cheese on top. Delizioso! (yes I had to use an online translator for that)