1 block soft organic tofu (from Dad's) +
2 frozen mango halves +
5-6 frozen strawberries +
1/2 frozen banana +
1/2 cup your favourite yogurt (if you're not vegan) +
1 cup or more fancy juice, like pomegranate or açaí =
a rich, creamy and (surprisingly) filling breakfast.* Yum!
* You have to blend everything first, then you get the smooth goodness :)
Sunday, December 16
1 block soft organic tofu (from Dad's) +
Saturday, December 8
Obtain an acorn squash or two from your local farmer's market or organic produce store and cut it in half. Take a moment to be amazed by the squash.
Scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Sprinkle with red onion, chopped garlic, fresh thyme leaves, salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil.
Place in a roasting pan and roast at 400F about 1 hour until almost cooked through.
In the meantime, scour your fridge for any left-over vegetables, nuts, dried fruit, grains and herbs. Chop everything into fairly small pieces.
Next, brown some ground pork, ground beef, spicy sausage, or even rehydrated textured vegetable protein in a fry-pan.
Remove meat once cooked through and sauté vegetables in the same pan until tender.
Add in browned meat, grains, dried fruit, nuts and herbs. Mix thoroughly.
Stuff into roasted squash and bake until squash is very tender, another 20-30 minutes.
Enjoy with a nice glass of white wine.
Friday, November 30
Check out my profile of the Taj Mahal on the food network site!
...and stay tuned for my interpretation of kulfi this weekend - mmm, cardamom, saffron and pistachios. You don't even need an ice cream machine for my version!!
Monday, September 17
Here's my second entry for Food Network Canada.
Sunday, September 16
Since we're protesting against cable television (read: too cheap to pay for cable), we rely on podcasts, youtube, the library, and 'other' sources for our mindless entertainment. Recently, we found episodes of "Hell's Kitchen" on youtube, and we've been catching up on all three seasons. Each season begins with Gordon Ramsey ordering the contestants to make their signature dish. Of course, after tasting each dish, Ramsey proceeds to spit it out, swear profusely and call the contestant very rude names.
This got me thinking (not the spitting and swearing - the signature dish!). If I had to pick one dish that I might label as my signature dish, what would it be? Hmm...
There are dishes that I always seem to bring to potlucks - ribs, grain salads, pork tenderloins, strawberry-white-chocolate mouse cake - but those are just crowd-pleasers. I wouldn't exactly call them my signature dish.
Then it dawned on me. I make a pretty awesome fatty fish (except when doing a zillion things at once and not paying attention it becomes less than awesome). But for now, I'm going to call this my signature dish - I love it's simplicity and clean flavours. Besides it can be made in less than 30 minutes.
Please don't use frozen (or frozen and thawed) fish for this. Buy good quality salmon from a fish monger or farmer's market. If you have access to it, try to find wild-caught Alaskan salmon. For other fish choices, check out Seafood Watch to learn about which varieties of fish won't kill our oceans. Note that if you do decide to buy responsibly, you're going to have to shell out $28/lb or so. Just buy smaller portions and eat less meat the rest of the week to make up the cost :)
Asian-inspired Salmon (or trout or tuna or other fatty fish)
- boneless fillets of fatty fish
- soy sauce
- maple syrup
- grated fresh ginger
- lots of fresh ground pepper, coarsely ground
- a little salt
3. Mix it all together with a fork and TASTE. Depending on your brand of soy sauce, you may need to add some salt or more maple syrup. Adjust the seasonings.
4. Place your fillets into the vessel and let them marinate in the goodness for as long as you can wait, flipping them over every once in a while. Sometimes I think ahead and do this part as soon as I get home from work so they marinate for 1 hr or so, but sometimes I just let them sit for 10 min if we're in a hurry to eat.
5. Preheat your oven to 425 F. Oil a metal baking tray and place the fillets gently on the tray, with at least 2 cm between them.
6. Bake until done. Yeah, that's right. It's now up to you to watch the fillets. When I'm making 2-4 fillets, I usually check them after 6 minutes, then I watch diligently. When I'm making 6 fillets, I check them after 10 minutes, then I watch diligently. Sometimes I take them out and poke them with a butter knife to see if they're about to start flaking.
DO NOT OVERCOOK. Know that after you take them out, they will keep on baking with the residual heat left in the fish and on the baking tray.
7. Serve with Garlic Scallion Noodles (inspired by Jaden) and steamed baby bok choy like in the photo above, or choose your own favourite sides.
Saturday, September 8
Just wanted to invite you to check out my first entry on the Food Network Canada blog. Please write some comments there so I don't feel lonely!
Sunday, September 2
Each time we travel home, we try to schedule in as many visits with family and friends as possible. Of course, this means that some people get left out (like my friend Jen in Toronto, who we only get to see every couple years). Driving between London and Ottawa, with an occasional stop in Toronto or Kingston to have a meal with a friend is pretty tiring when you're (supposedly) on vacation. I hate trying to schedule in friends like they are business appointments.
Having said all that, when we do get to visit with a handful of friends, the visits are always a great time to catch up and laugh. Of course, they most often center around food.
When Mel and Mark invited us out to Tanakaya, a small Japanese place in the Covent Garden Market in London, we agreed immediately. We ordered an assortment of dishes - gyoza, bbq eel sushi, edamame, veg tempura, a bento box each and some matcha ice cream to finish it off.
I was impressed with the sushi and many items in the bento box (especially the pickled beet and the dressing on the salad), but my salmon was a bit dry. For my tastes, it was slathered with too much sauce and I couldn't taste the flavour of the fish.
I know, I know - in a sushi place, if I wanted to taste the flavour of fish, I should have gotten something raw. But still, you would think that out of all the places I've had sub-par seafood, a sushi joint should not be one of them. Next time we're in town, I'd like to visit again, try something raw and get back to you - hopefully it was just an off night for salmon because the rest of the meal was delicious. Thanks to Mel and Mark for suggesting Tanakaya and for the wonderful company.
Before we left on vacation (like, a month ago!), Wendy and Mike invited us over for the last supper. Ah, the idea is, you can spend the week getting rid of all the food in your fridge and not have to worry about what you're going to eat the day before your trip because you have wonderful friends who will provide an awesome meal. Got that?
Which leads me to my next point - Mike is the King of Cheesecake. Since we first met them, I think we have tasted about seven different cheesecakes made by the King, one of which is described here (where you can see that Mike is also the King of Pizza).
The last supper cheesecake was a very light raspberry and had a texture that was unlike most cheesecakes - very smooth and not at all grainy. In the photo below you can see a little indent that an errant raspberry made. That's right, the cheesecake was so light that the weight of a single raspberry marred the surface. Absolutely delicious in flavour but what did it for me personally, were the fantastic texture and lightness.
Roasted garden vegetables and grilled skewers rounded out the last supper. Mucho thanks to Wendy and Mike for making travel easier.
Friday, August 31
After my first week back to work (which is why we are low on the blog posts yet again), I definitely needed a drink. So I made one (see ingredients below). Any guesses?
If you guessed "strawberry-mango-orange margarita", you win! Edit: Doug and Ula informed me that margaritas have lime and tequilla - oops! Maybe this is a daiquiri ?
- two halves of frozen mango
- two handfuls of frozen strawberries
- two shots of orange juice
- two shots of rum (um, I may have used more...)
- two teaspoons of Demerara sugar (optional)
Wednesday, August 22
Living 3000km away from family sucks. But, as a bonus, when I do get to visit - like for the last two weeks which is why there are no blog posts - I get food-spoiled. That's right, my family, Ian's family and even random families food-spoil me. In addition to obtaining wicked tans, we also increased our waist sizes considerably. Oh well. That's what family visits are for, right? (um, don't answer that)
We traveled with two absolutely adorable girls and helped deliver them to visit with their Grandparents. As a thank you, their Grandma spoiled us with a basket of treats, cute napkin holders, some sparkly wine and a cookbook. The baklava, peanut butter cookies and homemade "turtles" quickly disappeared - in fact, we had devoured half the treats before I remembered to take a photo! Yum, yum. Thank you for the thank you treats, Grandma!
Family dinners with my Mom and Dad consisted of childhood favourites: mainly meat-n-potatoes with fresh veg on the side. Here are the only two pics I remembered to take.
Roasted pork, mashed potatoes and green beans. My Mom is the Queen of falling-apart roast pork.
Meatloaf, roasted potatoes and tomato salad.
Ian's family spoiled us with treats - chocolate, ice cream, junk food, Dairy Queen dilly bars, late-night bruschetta made by my brother-in-law (who is also known for the best-ever-in-life-roast-beef-made-at-home that I'm still trying to copy but am too cheap to buy a good cut).
I'm thankful that I was food-spoiled, but also a little sad that my waist has expanded. I've been going on mad bike rides and doing power yoga almost every day to make up for it. It's slowly working :) Of course, I didn't even consider limiting my food intake, because, well, that would be stupid.
Friday, August 3
grow watch the following grow in my backyard: weeds, some cooking herbs, four strawberry plants and a bunch of raspberries. Yup, I'm lazy. Luckily, we have just the right amount of raspberry bushes - not enough to have to do any work, but plenty so we get a bowl-ful of plump berries every few days.
Earlier this week I had a craving for easy raspberry bread. So I began to search out and/or formulate a recipe. Usually I begin with skimming through my personal recipe collection (organized by my beautiful friend Taryn, and added to by my "aunt" Donna) to see if I can find any similar recipes.
Next, I move onto checking the handful of cookbooks I own. I'm pretty selective in the cookbooks I buy, although, I usually borrow 3 (or 7) from the library each week (yeah, other people read Harry Potter, I read cookbooks. Um, I read Harry Potter too). Nothing found in the cookbooks.
Next comes the web search, starting with searching through my favourite blogs, then favourite chef sites, then foodtv.ca, then foodtv.com (they have different licensing agreements, and thus, different recipes).
Finally, after I have found my favourite few recipes, I modify and/or consolidate them into the one I will try. After tasting the result for the first time, I write down my impressions and any changes I would make the next time. And so the process repeats.
Healthy Raspberry Bread
- 2 cups spelt flour (or use whole wheat)
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- pinch salt
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp prune puree + 1 tbsp oil (or 3 tbsp oil, but I try to lower the fat content)
- 1/2 cup yogurt + 1/2 cup milk (or use 1 cup half and half, or use 3/4 cup yogurt + 1/4 cup milk)
- 2 cups raspberries
2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
3. In a large bowl, stir sugar, egg, vanilla and prune+oil until combined. Stir in half of the flour mixture and all the yogurt+milk. Stir in the rest of the flour until just combined (add 1-2 tbsp more yogurt if dough is on the dry side - this depends on the flour you use)
4. Gently stir in the berries and spread into pan, evening out the top.
5. Bake for approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle.
6. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack covered with a tea towel (to prevent ridges) and cool completely before slicing. Serve alone, or with a thin spread of butter or lemon curd.
(modified from Alton Brown's recipe)
- 1 lemon and 1/2 lime, zested and juiced (or, only use lemon - you should have 1/3 cup of juice from the citrus)
- 5 egg yolks
- 1 cup sugar (next time, I'll use 3/4 cup only)
- 1 stick butter (1/4 of a 454 g block), cut into 1-2 cm thick slices
2. In the bowl (not yet placed over the water), whisk together the citrus juice and zest, sugar and egg yolks until thoroughly combined.
3. Place the bowl over the simmering water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water) and continue whisking for 7 or 8 minutes non-stop. If you stop, you run the risk of scrambling the eggs, although the double-boiling method helps to prevent this. You will know when you are done when the mixture turns a light yellow colour and coats the back of a spoon (nappe).
4. Take the bowl off the heat and whisk in one slice of butter at a time. Whisk until each slice is fully incorporated, then add the next slice. Continue this pattern until all or most (I left two knobs - see pic) of the butter is added, putting the bowl back over the hot water for a few minutes if the butter is taking too long to melt into the mixture.
5. Transfer to a clean bowl and place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd (to prevent a skin from forming). Refrigerate for up to 2 or even 3 weeks (this is surprisingly stable stuff!).
We spread it on the raspberry bread and had it for breakfast. Drool...
Thursday, August 2
I wanted to do something nice for our friends Wendy and Mike. They are such loving and selfless people who always inspire us to be better (and all we do is mooch from their garden!)
Besides engaging in stimulating conversation, sharing their pizza-making secrets and competing in games of SET, they are also the type of people who readily give away fresh produce from their garden, allow the use of their car for furniture-moving, and always send us home with stunning home-baked goods (Wendy says: "Friends don't let friends get fat. Now take the cheesecake home already!)
I decided to cook them an anniversary dinner. Not just any kind of dinner, mind you, but an eight-course tasting menu with the theme of "Around the World". And, to give them some time for themselves (wink, wink), I picked up their two lovely daughters at 9am on the day in question and prepared the celebration with the girls. It was a blast.
The girls and I spent two weeks plotting in secret - the girls provided menu and decor ideas, as well as an entertainment schedule. Last Friday, they spent the day choosing the appropriate plates, making construction-paper flags and decorations, and mostly importantly, cooking - making dips, operating the appliances, stirring, mixing and tasting the progress of the meals (I got: "Eww, I don't like that" and "Mmm, that tastes like lemonade" and "What's an amuse bouche?"). It was so much fun!
Our dining table was carefully transported to the living room and the kitchen was cordoned off with an old drape, to which we taped two signs, made by each of the girls: "Eploiees Only" and "Inplogeis Only." The girls worked as waitresses and entertainers: in between serving the dishes, they played the piano and sang (in multiple languages!). Unbelievably cute.
Unfortunately, since I was busy cooking, plating and managing two kids under 10yrs old, I forgot to take photos of many of the dishes :( Here's the menu though with a few of the pics I did take:
Italy. Amuse Bouche - Baby Insalata Caprese
Spain. Gazpacho in a Cucumber Bowl (photos are from the making of...)
Mexico. Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salad with Tortilla and Chipotle Cream (the most stylized dish of the night)
China. Steamed Pork Dumplings (or Veg Dumplings for Mike) - I had made these before
Morocco. Minty Couscous with Lemon Salmon (or Grilled Portobello for Mike)
Malaysia. Spicy Clear Broth Soup with Glass Noodles and Tofu
France. Selection of Pastries Purchased from a local Bakery (with chocolate sauce and ice cream)
Arctic. Sugar Granita with a Snowflake Cookie
Wednesday, August 1
One of my favourite food inspiration websites is Tastespotting. Users submit photos of food or food-related items along with a link to the original site - a blog, news article, kitchen store, winery, you get the idea. Editors monitor and post drool-worthy items. Every day I check out the pretty pictures and the interesting food combos. Sometimes, the stars align, and I happen upon a recipe or idea that I can make instantly with what I have on hand.
Last week, the food Gods sent me Meena's recipe for Malaysian Red Chili Chicken. I made a few alternations according to what I had in the fridge and made it for dinner that very night! I wasn't even going to do a photo shoot because we were so hungry and it smelled so good, but Ian convinced me to snap a couple of pictures. Unfortunately, I didn't set up the shot properly and the only one that turned out has weird shadows. Here it is anyway:
Eating this curry brought me straight back to our unbelievably wicked adventure in SE Asia. Ah, the power of food...
Here's the recipe for the chicken, as posted by Meena, with a few of my alterations:
Malaysian Red Chili Chicken
- 2 large chicken breasts, diced into 1-inch cubes (I only used 1 small chicken breast since we're cutting down on meat - as a result, I had more sauce!)
- 1 small onion (I used red onion)
- 1 medium sized tomato (I used three canned tomatos with a little of the juice)
- 2 lemongrass stalks, only using the white parts (I used 3 stalks)
- 1 tsp ginger-garlic paste (I used 1 clove of garlic and a 1-inch piece of ginger, both finely minced)
- 2 tbsp Sambal Oelek (the version I used contained shrimp paste)
- 1/2 tsp tumeric powder
- 2 tbsp light cooking oil (I used less)
- (I added a finely chopped birds eye chili too, but it will be plenty spicy without)
2. Blend onion, tomato and lemon grass to a smooth fine paste, adding a little water if necessary.
3. Saute the marinated chicken in hot oil till lightly browned, and set aside. In the same pan, fry ginger-garlic paste, Sambal Oelek and onion-tomato-lemon grass paste, stirring continuously till it starts to give out oil from the sides.
4. Add in chicken, salt and water if necessary, and stir fry till chicken in cooked through and the flavours absorbed.
Thank you Meena! I'll definately be making this again - it tasted like the curries we had in Malaysia and Singapore. Looky here: I scrounged up a pic of a dinner we had in Kuala Lumpur in Dec 2005. Yes, those are banana leaves that we are using in lieu of plates. And yes, I was planning those trips around food too, I just wasn't blogging about it back then :)
Tuesday, July 31
I made another version of no-kneed bread a few weeks ago and posted the details in the comments on the original post.
And what better way to enjoy the freshness of dense, seedy bread than with a creamy egg salad (hmm, maybe with good-quality butter, but that's another story). While the bread was still warm, I boiled some eggs, creamed the yolks with mayo, salt, black pepper and pureed chipotle and mixed in the chopped whites. My Dad always makes egg salad this way (well, without the chipotle), smoothing the yolks first - I think it makes for a creamier salad.
What a great breakfast - thick slices of fresh bread with spicy eggs.
Monday, July 30
I have a problem. I've made lots of great food lately but am behind in sharing with you, my lovely audience. I feel as though I have to post catch-up meals before I allow myself to describe the recent meals. Weird, huh? That just how I'm wired I guess, and anything out of chronological order will mess with my mind.
So, here's some szarlotka (traditionally, Polish apple pastry) I made a while ago. The pastry didn't turn out as well as when my talented Mom makes it, but it satisfied our sweet and butter craving. I won't share the recipe, because I think it's more about technique than ingredients and I still need tutoring on that from Mom.
Szarlotka is a cake (or is it pie, or squares...can you tell I'm not the baker in the family?) made with a flaky, buttery crust and filled with fruit. When I was growing up, my Mom or Grandma would often make it with apples or strawberries. I decided on strawberry rhubarb since we had recently - ah, about 1 month ago - picked the berries ourselves (that's me, btw).
The rhubarb was fresh from a friend's garden (we are lucky to have such friends - ones that do all the work and let us reep the benefits...what can we say: we're lazy moochers!).
I melted down the fruit a little by cooking and cooling equal parts of strawberry and rhubarb with a little sugar. I also strained out excess juice and made popsicles! Unfortunately the filling (and popsicles) turned out quite tart.
Although, in my mind, that wasn't such a bad thing, considering the crust contained a whole block (not stick) of butter. That's right, 454 grams. So the buttery crust more than made up for the lack of sugar in the filling and the two matched well. As per my family's tradition, I added some sweetness by dusting with icing sugar.
Smacznego! (uh, that's what we say in Polish, in lieu of "Bon Appétit")
Thursday, July 19
I'm a little ashamed to say that, being new to to the food-blog-o-sphere, I've only recently found out about no-kneed bread. No-kneed bread??! That's right. Now you can have all the benefits of fresh homemade bread without straining your precious forearms! This is my kind of recipe.
Posted by the charming Mark Bittman of the New York Times (Nov, 2006), this is a recipe modified from Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery. One copy of the original recipe (at least original to my knowledge) with more elaborate instructions can be found here or you can google 'no-kneed bread' and come up with a thousand hits.
(including my adaptations of Mark's adapations of Jim's recipe)
- 3 cups bread flour (I used 1 cup each of spelt, whole wheat and white)
- 1/4 tsp instant yeast
- 1 tsp kosher salt (I used 1 tbsp and it was way too much!)
- 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
2. Add water and stir with fork or knife until mixed (takes about 1 min) and looks like sticky, lumpy goop.
3. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm corner of your kitchen to rise for 18 hours (I cut this short and let it rest only for 15 hrs).
Mine looked like this after step 3:
4. Dump out onto a floured surface and fold over a few times, shaping into a rough ball. Let rest for two hours under a floured tea towel (next time, I'll just let it rest in an oiled bowl since it stuck to the towel).
Mine looked like this while resting:
5. Preheat oven along with covered cast iron pot to 450F. Note, I don't have such a pot, so I used a pizza stone. Next time, I'll use either a covered casserole dish or just a regular uncovered loaf pan.
6. Bake for 30 min if uncovered. If covered, take off lid after 30 min and baked for another 15 min until crust is golden and bread sounds hollow when knocked.
Here's my final result. Crust has good crunch without being too hard and the inside has texture somewhere between whole wheat and rye. So far we've had it with salad for lunch, as an oil/vinegar dipper and with butter and jam. Absolutely excellent.
I'll be making this bread every week from now on. I'll experiment with different baking vessels, flours, proportions of salt and additions of wheat bran, oat, flax, herbs, etc... I'll keep you appraised of my findings.
If you happen to make this bread, please post your version, any modifications you made and your impressions. We can experiment together instead of reading the thousands of blog posts and comments already made about this recipe...
Wednesday, July 18
A few days ago I left some dried beans to soak overnight. The next day I rinsed the beans and boiled them (in separate pots) until al dente. From a teeny amount of dried beans, I was granted a full platter of pinto, kidney, black beans and chickpeas.
Some of these went into salads for lunches, some into refried spicy beans served with mango and beef quesadillas, and some others were made into falafel. The rest were frozen in old yogurt containers labeled: "3-bean medley".
The chickpeas, however, were carefully separated out from the other legumes and were made into a quick "pantry and freezer" curry (definition: curry made solely with pantry and freezer ingredients).
Quick yellow chickpea curry
(measurements are approximate)
- 1 white onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp curry paste (I used a spicy madras)
- 2 cups chickpeas that were soaked, then boiled (or use 1 can, drained)
- 2 cubes of frozen spinach
- handful frozen peas
- 1 mango*, cubed
- handful cilantro, roughly chopped
2. add curry paste until it becomes fragrant (add a little water if it's sticking to the pot)
3. mix in chickpeas, add enough water to just barely cover, and boil gently until almost cooked
4. stir in spinach, peas, mango and cilantro and cook until heated through
5. serve with basmati rice and naan
*I added mango to curry for the first time today. I make mango chutney all the time, but never thought of adding this fruit to hot curries - I'll definitely do it more often now! The mango adds great sweetness and balances the spiciness well.