To All the Posts I’ve Never Loved Before…

16 Nov

As each year winds down, the inevitable best-of lists begin popping up everywhere. Best new albums, best new movies, best new restaurants etc. Although I’m a fan of (most of) these, I thought I’d take a different approach.

Introducing: my first annual Worst of Recipes 2014 

Not to be misleading, my actual worst/most mundane kitchen endeavours do not come within ten feet of being photographed (who has time for that biz).

Here are some that got pretty far, but not far enough.

1. Homemade Pizza (topped with mozzarella, tuna, capers, cherry tomatoes, red peppers, red onions, thyme) 

This one was rather devastating. The toppings were on point, but the crust was bad. I thought substituting some old bread flour instead of all purpose would be ok. It was not. Don’t do this.

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2. Blueberry Blintzes with fresh Thyme and Cinnamon 

By some sort of miracle, on a Sunday morning I woke up feeling super ambitious and not even slightly hungover. Additionally, we somehow had a fridge full of various cheese (s?). I decided to give these blintzes a try. I made the crepes, I made the coulis, I made the filling.

Only instead of reaching for the beautiful ricotta, I somehow used plain old cottage cheese (too overwhelmed with cheese-choice) and the filling was just eh. A bit gritty.

Too sweet too, I hate sweet stuff for breakfast.

Shame. They looked so pretty.

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3. Spicy Peanut Ginger Drumsticks

This was a case of finding a recipe on Pinterest that didn’t live up to my expectations. It looked pretty, but the personality just wasn’t there.

Mine:
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The inspiration:

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Don’t be fooled by style over substance!

4. Tofu, tofu, tofu. I make a lot of tofu bowls. I always plan on posting about tofu bowls, but it turns out there is nothing revolutionary about em. Tofu is tasty, and healthy and you can but it in any bowl, in any combo you like! There ya go!

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5. Same goes for salads.

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6. Huevos Rancheros

These were yummy and good. The problem was I didn’t know how to put it into a recipe format that made any sense. Just layer eggs, beans, salsa, sour cream, cheese and avocado on a tortilla.

Or go out for brunch and pay someone else good money to do it for you.

I served these with a roasted veggie salad and some sort of warm fried spicy quinoa.

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7.Thai Red Curry.

Sometimes you just invent recipes and forget to write them down. Not that I invented red curry, just that I have no idea how this one was made. It was good though.

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I’ll make this again and pay attention.

8. Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon– “This woman was not selling short cuts”

This was lovely. NOT a mistake, just never made it to the blog. The recipe was followed to a tee. By my mom. If you have patience and a whole afternoon to while away, try this recipe out.

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If you don’t have her book, find the recipe here . You will not be disappointed.

To another year of trial and error in the kitchen, blog, and otherwise!

xo M

Pumpkin Earl Grey Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

26 Oct

Are y’all sick of pumpkin yet?

I hope not.

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Because these are not your everyday, garden variety pumpkin goods.

The unique twist is the Earl Grey (my fave). The traditional spices that are used for most pumpkin recipes (i.e. cinnamon, nutmeg, clove etc) are not necessary here. The tea gives the cupcakes a nice, subtle bergamot hint.

And cream cheese icing. Come on.

Pumpkin Earl Grey Cupcakes (Makes 16)

Adapted from Honest Cooking 

Cakes:
1 cup milk
4 Earl Grey tea bags
2 cups all purpose flour
1.5 cups sugar
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups pumpkin puree (I used canned)
1 cup vegetable oil (sunflower)
4 eggs

1) Steam/heat milk and steep tea bags for 10 minutes until concentrated.
2) Mix dry ingredients ( flour, sugar, baking powder, salt)
3) Separately, mix wet ingredients (eggs, oil, pumpkin, vanilla)
4) Press teabags with the back of a spoon to extract all the flavour, and remove. Add milk/tea to wet mix.
5) Mix wet and dry (do not over mix)
6) Spoon into muffin tray with cupcake liners, about 3/4 full or 1/3 cup.
7) Bake at 345 for 15-20 minutes

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Cream Cheese Icing

12 tablespoons unsalted butter (at room temperature)
3 250 gram packs of plain cream cheese (or 750 grams if in bulk)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1.5 cups powdered sugar (or a bit less if you like things less sweet, like I do)

Blend together adding powdered sugar slowly. Blend until smooth, and pipe onto cooled cupcakes. Dust with cinnamon.

NOTE: I’ve made this icing without the butter and it is still mighty tasty! If you’re looking to lighten them up, feel free to omit.

We are now serving these at The Beet (2945 Dundas St W), so if you’re feeling peckish and too lazy to bake, let us do the work for you!

xo

M

Simple n’ Sweet Potato Chutney

23 Oct

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This recipe for sweet potato chutney is one of my favourites due to its simplicity and freshness. Great served cold with cheese and crackers or -even better- heated up and with a fried egg after coming home tipsy from the bar.

Try out this sweet potato chutney for your next event/dinner party/hangover cure.

Sweet Potato Chutney

1 large sweet potato, peeled, cooked and mashed
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon anchor powder (powdered mango) (optional)
Chopped fresh cilantro (to taste)

Combine all ingredients until smooth. Let sit, refrigerated for at least 1-2 hours before serving. This allows the flavours to blend and intensify. The result is tangy, smooth and strangely addictive.

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I made a big batch and it kept really well, at least a week, in the fridge. It is really versatile stuff that can be used to enhance many dishes, sandwiches and snacks. TIP: make sure there is enough lemon juice. It is supposed to be tangy, and a but crunchy from the onion.

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This was a pretty cheese and chutney plate I made for Thanksgiving. The others are mint, and a spicy bottled one that was a gift from The Netherlands with ingredients I could not begin to understand.

Dutch is a weird language.

xo

M

Lamb Kofta Meatballs with Spiced Yogurt

17 Oct

I’ve never been a huge fan of lamb. The problem is, I often see photos of and recipes for lamb that look really tantalizing. (I feel the same way, only stronger, about goat cheese. I know, I know…)

While casually cruising around Kensington recently, I popped into Sanagan’s Meat Locker, an amazing hipster butcher (pardon the term), that we recently discovered. This is the kind of busy place that requires you to grab a number and await your turn. Once you have that little paper tab, things tend to move quickly. You are under pressure.

During this hasty moment, with endless options before me,  I spontaneously bought some ground lamb.

Middle Eastern food and flavours are amongst my favourite, and many recipes call for lamb. So what the hell?

“I’ll make kofta!” I thought.

But alas, I didn’t have any wooden skewers, and couldn’t find any in a pinch. So instead of cooking these on a stick (!!) I made them into meatballs. They were equally delicious if not quite as fun.

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I served them with spiced yogurt and paprika, a couscous salad and fried eggplant.

 

Lamb Kofta Meatballs with Spiced Yogurt 

(Makes about 15)

  • 1 lb ground organic lamb
  • 1 shallot or 1/4 onion, chopped finely
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds (toasted) or 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 clove garlic, shredded
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons semolina (couscous) uncooked
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1.5 tablespoons dried mint
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne

Spiced Yogurt 

  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 cloves garlic, shredded
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • Cup roughly chopped parsley and mint (fresh or dried)
  • 1 tsp chives (fresh or dried)

Method

  1. Mix all the ingredients of yogurt sauce first, and let sit in the fridge
  2. In small pan, lightly toast cumin seeds with slivered almonds (can also use pine nuts, which are more traditional)
  3. Combine lamb with all of the spices, onion, herbs, egg and semolina. Mix well with hands.
  4. Roll into small meatballs, being careful not to pack them too tightly. If you have the time,let them rest for 30 minutes or more refrigerated to let the flavours blend.
  5. You can either pan fry them or bake them. I fried them lightly over medium high heat (about two minutes) and then baked them on a tray at 300 for 10 ish minutes.
  6. You can also form them onto soaked skewers (fun!) and bake them that way.

This meal totally hit the spot. I fried up some eggplant (my new fave) dipped in egg whites, and layered it with raw cucumbers (a nice contrast of soft and crunchy), with a lemony couscous/tabouli hybrid salad. I drizzled the whole thing with fresh lemon juice and touch of olive oil.

The yogurt sauce was spicy and tangy and complimented the lamb very well.

These were a hit well worth repeating! They would also make great appetizers.

I may be a lamb convert yet. Stay tuned! 

xo M

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Vegan Scones with Chipotle, Green Onion and Thyme

7 Oct

I’m a bad blogger. Not that I’m bad at it (cough), just that I’m un-disciplined.

I didn’t do my favourite things list for August (Camping! Family reunions!) OR September (Las Vegas! Utah! Wedding!)

But I’m back.
It is fall.
A fresh start.

And have lots of new recipes to share.

I made these today. They turned out so delightfully that I ate three straight out of the oven and ruined my appetite for the rest of the day. Such a sucker for a savoury scone.

These scones substitute coconut oil and coconut milk for regular butter and dairy, so I like to think they’re a bit healthier than the average scone.

What’s great about them is you can really add any flavour combination you like, non vegan too (Jalapeneo Cheddar? Garlic Rosemary? Black pepper Lime?) They can also be sweetened up by adding more sugar and teaspoon of vanilla (Apple Cinnamon? Blueberry Basil? Lemon Ginger?)

Vegan Scones with Chipotle, Green Onion and Thyme
Recipe adapted from The Vegan Delicious

Makes about 15

– 1 1/4 non dairy, creamy milk (I used coconut)
– 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
– 3 cups all purpose flour
– 2 tablespoons baking powder
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 1/4 cup sugar (add another 1/4 cup if making sweet scone)
– 1/2 cup non- hydrogenated vegetable oil (shortening) or coconut oil (cold)
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– 1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder (optional)
– 1/4 teaspoon black pepper (optional)
– 4 green onions, thinly sliced (optional)
– 4-5 sprigs fresh thyme (optional)

1) Preheat oven to 375

2) In a large bowl mix together flour, sugar, salt and baking powder.

3) In a separate bowl combine coconut milk with apple cider vinegar and let rest 5-10 minutes. This creates a “buttermilk” like curdle.

4) Add the coconut oil to the dry mixture. It is important that the oil is fairly hard. I refrigerated it for about 10 minutes prior. Mix with wooden spoon. Finish mixing by hand, crumbling the oil into the flour (without melting it!). It should turn the flour into a “pebble-y” texture.

5) Stir in the milk and olive oil with the wooden spoon. Do not over mix.

6) Line baking tray with parchment paper and scoop batter onto pan with large spoon. These puff up quite a bit, so make sure they have lots of space!

7) Bake for 15-20 minutes until they become golden and crispy on the outside. Cool on baking wrack.

So tasty! I was at times skeptical, but they came out extremely light and fluffy. Let me know if you try these out!

Very simple.

xo M

Homemade Pizza with Nectarines, Ricotta and Basil

7 Aug

This dinner was eaten standing up.

After all that effort to put together a nice meal, we never even made it to the table.

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I’ll take it as a compliment.

I’m most excited to finally find a great pizza dough recipe. Once you’ve got that down, the toppings are the easy part. This recipe was awesome. It created a nice crispy, chewy, thin crust and was quite easy.

I’ll never stray.

I lifted this recipe (once again) from Alexandra’s Kitchen.

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Pizza Dough

3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for rolling
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 3/4 cups lukewarm water
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons active-dry yeast (I used quick-rising)
2 teaspoons olive oil

1) In one bowl, combine flour and salt. In another small bowl, combine yeast, sugar and warm water. Let sit for 5 minutes or so until bubbly. Add olive oil.
2) Gradually add liquids to flour mixture and knead until firm and smooth, about 5 minutes.
3) Divide dough into four balls and coat with small amount of olive oil. Let sit in a warm place on greased pan with plastic wrap loosely covering for about 1 – 1.5 hours until dough has risen (almost doubled) in size.
4) Roll out with floured rolling pin until dough is flat (Note: this recipe makes “personal sized” pizzas)
5) Pre-heat oven to 500. Place on greased pan or dry pizza stone and cover with whatever yummy toppings you desire! (Note: I used a pizza stone with great success). I baked the pizza with ricotta and nectarines and added the other toppings after. Bake 10-15 minutes until crust is golden and crispy (although not too crispy like Pizza #1!)

I reduced about 1/2 a cup of balsamic vinegar while the pizza was baking over medium-high heat until syrupy (be careful not to burn!)

Toppings

2 ripe nectarines, sliced
1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
1/2 cup fresh basil (after)
2 tablespoons balsamic reduction (after)
Slices fresh Parmesan (after)
Olive oil (after)
Arugula (after)

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I still have dough left over. Apparently it freezes  very well (we shall see). Making dough in advance makes for very quick meals later on! I can’t wait to have more homemade pizza in a pinch. Having the dough pre-prepped will help me feel extra domestic goddess-y later on.  

What are your favourite pizza toppings?

Let me know if you try this out!

xo

M

 

Favourite Things: July- Chicago, Montreal, Beck and recipe for Kale and Herb Fritters with Chipolte Tahini Yogurt Dip. Whew.

4 Aug

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July flew by with the quickness!

Things I did this month:

-Visited the Art Institute of Chicago
-Finally saw Beck live
-Ate crepes in Quebec
-Slept in a tent

Pretty excellent.

Here are a few of my favourite things!

ONE: Visiting friends, new cities and live music. (That’s three things)

We headed to Chicago once again this year to catch the Pitchfork music festival and meet up with Mike and Brittany. Headliners: Beck, Neutral Milk Hotel and Kendrick Lamar. All delivered excellent sets. I also really loved St.Vincent, Jon Hopkins and Tune-yards.

Highlight: Annie Clark of St. Vincent absolutely killed it and Beck performed one of my all-time favourite tunes, Chemtrails.

 

 

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TWO: The Art Institute of Chicago

…is now one of my favourite art galleries. Ever. So many iconic and priceless works of art, including American Gothic, Seurat’s La Grand Jatte, and Nighthawks. The Magritte exhibition was excellent, and made me come away with a new, greater appreciation for the Surrealists.

blognotapipeIt is not.

I could spend allllll day there, happily.

And audio tours. Obv.

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THREE: Mile End, Montreal. 

Last weekend we headed to Quebec for two nights. We spent a wild one in Montreal and another wild one (literally) in the wilderness outside of Magog, where we got to spend some time with more fantastic faraway friends. This is where the tent sleeping happened.

This charming neighbourhood in Montreal is home to fabulous coffee and bagels . A must (re) visit.

Highlights: Eating St. Viateur bagels hot out of the oven dunked in tangy cream cheese, $10 drink specials for 4 tequila shots (including tabasco chasers!) at Andrews Pub in downtown Montreal, people watching while drinking excellent espresso from Myriad, swimming in Lac Magog, partying into the wee hours with Nick and Kate, road trip playlists and eating cheesy asparagus crepes the size of your head.

 

 

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Understandably weary.

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bagel

coffee

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FOUR: Tarte Amazonian Clay BB Tinted Moisturizer SPF20 Sunscreen

I love cosmetics and I just gotta share my latest favourites.

This product is another home run for me from Tarte. Contrary to most makeup, it is possible that this stuff has actually improved my skin overall. I have not broken out once since I started using it and the texture and evenness of my skin has improved! Impressed.

Bonus: it contains mostly natural ingredients. I don’t think I could ever stray from this super-light foundation.

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Five: Kale and Herb Fritters with Chipotle Tahini Yogurt

I stumbled upon a fabulous food blog called Alexandra’s Kitchen. Intrigued, I decided to try out these fritters, as I had a whole bundle of kale withering away in the fridge (AS PER USUAL)

I was skeptical at times throughout the (slightly messy) process, but the end result was SO good. The tahini dip was my own edition, which I also like to pair with falafels.

You could substitute any dark leafy green, such as chard or mustard greens or even a combination.

 

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Kale and Herb Fritters with Tahini Chipotle Yogurt Dip 

(makes approx 8)

  • One large bunch of leafy greens, stems removed.
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup fresh dill
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 green spring onions (about)
  • fresh cracked black pepper
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (maybe a bit more😉
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil for frying (unscented)
  1. Simmer greens in boiling salted water until soft, about 5 minutes
  2. Strain well and pat dry with paper towel
  3. Blend everything in a food processor except for the cheese. Once well blended, fold in the cheese.
  4. Over high heat, fry fritters in batches (about 1.5 tablespoons each) (about 5 minutes on each side). Be sure to leave enough room in the pan to flip them properly!
  5. Serve hot with a squeeze of lemon.

Tahini Chipotle Yogurt Dip 

  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 3 heaping tablespoons tahini
  • Fresh juice of 1/4 lemon
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
  • 1 clove garlic
  1. Mix!

 

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Ok so…they’re not pretty, but these were a huge hit. They are a fun way to eat more greens, and potential flavour combinations are endless,. Really, you could  combine any fresh herbs with any greens and the result would be delicious.

They reminded me a little bit of palak paneer…I think next time I’ll try adding some different spices and put an Indian spin on it.

Happy mid-Summer all!

 

xo M

 

Chilled Sesame Tahini Soba Bowl

15 Jul

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You guys. I am so very excited to share this recipe with you (!!).

I had a very ho-hum week in the kitchen. Some recipes I tried fell disappointingly flat.

Obviously, I want to share only my favourites. As a blogger, this can be a frustrating process when trying to come up with fresh content!

And then- Hallelujah!- I whipped up this dish and I knew I had to share. The flavour was out of this world.

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These cold soba noodles are basically a vehicle for this awesome sauce (NOT to be confused with “awesomesauce”- cringe) which called for tahini and a shocking amount of sesame oil.

I’ve always thought sesame oil was to be used rather sparingly, but here it totally works.

Colour me surprised!

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This can be consumed hot (loved it), cold (also loved it) as a side dish (yum) or as a meal (did that!)

Try it out and tell me what you think! ( Based on this recipe from foodnetwork.com)

Cold Sesame Tahini Soba Bowl

20 minutes, serves 4

– 1/3 cup soy sauce or tamari
-2 tablespoons brown sugar or honey
-1 tablespoon molasses
-3 tablespoons sesame oil
-3 tablespoons tahini
-3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
-3 cloves garlic, minced
– pinch or two of hot red chilli flakes
-1/2 fresh red bell pepper, sliced thinly
-1/2 cup peanuts
-1 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
-1/2 cup chopped spring onion
-fresh cilantro
-wedge of fresh lime
-1 package soba noodles

1) In a small saucepan, bring soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar and garlic to a boil. Turn heat to low and stir in molasses and return to simmer until reduced about 1/3.
2) Remove from heat and transfer to a mixing bowl. Add sesame oil, tahini and sprinkle of chilli flakes. Whisk to combine. Add salt if desired.
3) In large pot, bring water to boil and add noodles. Stir and watch until they soften (should take 3-5 minutes). Do not over cook!
4) Have ice bath ready. Drain noodles, plunge in ice bath and drain again. Rinse well with running water.
5) Combine noodles and sauce and rest of ingredients. Garnish and serve.

Feel free to add chicken or tofu to hearty it up. Although I found it rather filling on its own and the peanuts added good protein.

I want to make more. Right now.

M

The Beet’s Mushroom Walnut Quinoa Burger (Vegan)

1 Jul

The most popular posts I’ve ever done on Food, Mostly are vegan.

Coincidence? I think not.

In my opinion, vegan cooking requires just a little extra creativity and innovation. It is one of the reasons I enjoy preparing it so much. And it seems as though there are a lot of you out there searching for vegan inspiration! 

The number one, hands-down most popular post on the history of this site is this recipe for tofu “butter chicken” (and one of my personal fave recipes ever). The second is for this balsamic and honey glazed tempeh bowl, and tied for third is this recipe for veggie burgers made with black beans, mushrooms and walnuts from a few years back.

Every so often I like to revisit old recipes (as I believe I’ve improved in the kitchen/blog over time). However, this time I stole a similar recipe from the kitchen at work.

I present to you, The Beet‘s famous Mushroom Walnut Quinoa Burger

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You’ll Need:

2 cups cooked quinoa
2 cups mushrooms, sliced (I used half white, half crimini)
1 large white onion, diced
4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 cup walnuts
2 tablespoons almond butter (can substitute tahini, as I did)
1/4 cup tapioca starch (can substitute corn starch)
Salt and pepper
Olive oil to coat mushrooms

1. In large roasting pan, combine walnuts, onions, garlic cloves and mushrooms. Coat with olive oil, sage, salt and pepper.
2. Roast for 30 minutes at 400.
3. Meanwhile, cook quinoa on stove top.
4. Once roasted, drain off excess moisture and combine mushroom mixture in food processor with 1 cup of cooked quinoa (reserve other cup) along with tahini (or almond butter) and tapioca starch. Leave oven hot.
5. Once blended, add rest of cooked quinoa and mix (so the quinoa remains whole)
6. Taste for salt and pepper. Adjust seasoning if necessary.
7. Form into patties (makes approx 8) and put on greased baking sheet. Bake burgers at 400 for 15-20 minutes.
8. While baking, prepare your toppings.
9. Serve hot!

They’re not the prettiest but any stretch, but they’re tasty, filling and easy to prepare.

Note: these burgers are not crispy. They are a bit soft. For a crispier (and more decadent) effect, coat in cornmeal and fry in coconut oil. Also, taste for flavour again after adding the quinoa, as I find it can dilute the depth a bit.

Load up with your favourite toppings! I chose fried balsamic mushrooms, old cheddar-not vegan!!-, hummus, avocado and BBQ sauce.
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Or…if you’re just plain lazy and happen to be in Toronto, come visit me at my adorable little home-away-from-home, The Beet!

xo

M

Favourite Things- May/June Edition

3 Jun

The last month or so has been a super busy blur for me. May is our busiest month at work, and unfortunately, not a lot of (noteworthy) cooking has been happening at home.

I have, however made a few (noteworthy!) discoveries in the world of music and consumerism. Enjoy!

One: Nuxe Dry Oil for Face Body and Hair

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Holy Moly, a new (pricy) addiction has been formed!

A loved one brought some of this liquid gold home for me from Paris, and now I’m completely hooked. I used to love perusing the pharmacies in Paris when I was there, and would often see this on the shelves. It has a floral scent that at first I thought was rather strong (I don’t usually like scented things), but it quickly grew on me. This dry oil is derived from natural plant ingredients, is not at all greasy, and leaves my skin super soft with a nice glow.

When I see it on my bathroom shelf it makes me feel the tiniest bit closer to being that chic, classic French girl I always imagined I’d eventually morph into.

Le sigh.

Two: PeterThomas Roth Firm x Peeling Gel

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Another beauty breakthrough. This stuff is a real game changer. I received a deluxe sample at Sephora recently and was astonished that this exfoliating gel actually rolled the dead skin right off of my face. As in….you can instantly see and feel it lifting off the dead skin as your massage the gel in.

Instant. Gratification.

It is unscented and very, very gentle. As soon as the sample was finished I splurged on the full sized version and could not be happier with it! A new skincare essential.

Three: Playoff Hockey

An admitted bandwagon jumper, watching the Habs in the playoffs proved to be very, very entertaining…and then heartbreaking.

Go Rangers!

Four: Yoga Jeans

I don’t know why I waited so long to jump on this bandwagon. Oh em gee these are the most comfortable and best fitting jeans I’ve discovered in a long, long while. I’ve been looking for a flattering pair of high waisted jeans for years, essentially, and I was thrilled when I finally found these!

I want to buy a pair in every colour. And bonus, they’re affordable too (think $130 versus $230 plus- suck it J Brands)

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Five: ASOS.com

I’ve recently delved into the addictive and endless (dangerous) world of online shopping. My favourite is UK site http://www.asos.com that has great pictures, detailed sizing (including what sizes the models are wearing!) and best of all, free worldwide shipping. Another huge bonus is…wait for it, a Petites line (Hallelujah!).

I recently purchased this kimono-style top and could not be happier with it.

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Six: Miss Angel Olsen-

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It’s been so long since I’ve discovered an album that I’ve loved “cover to cover”, so to speak. This one is amazing. It is energetic, passionate and nuanced with great melodies.

We saw Angel Olsen perform at Lee’s Palace a few weeks ago and did not leave disappointed. A voice of a generation. Check it out!

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more recipes (when there’s finally time for groceries)

M

Hello, Crispy “Fried Chicken”! p.s. It’s Baked.

29 May

ImageWhat do you do when you have a hankering for something greasy and sinful but can’t lower bring yourself to pop out for a Double Down?

Why, you create a mock up of course. In this case, involving cornflakes. 

I remembered that I had hungrily Pin-interested something of the sort late one night, so I dug around and found some recipes. The following is a conflation of a few that I discovered as well as the recipe on the back of the Kelloggs box.

You’re welcome. 

The end result was satisfying, to say the least, and pretty fun to make too. 

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Healthy Crispy Baked “Fried Chicken” 

  • 8-10 chicken drumsticks or thighs  
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 3 cloves garlic- crushed 
  • salt and pepper (1/2 teaspoon each)
  • liquid smoke
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon 
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups (or more) crumbled cornflakes 
  1. Combine yogurt, salt and pepper, paprika, garlic, mustard and a few drops of liquid smoke in a medium sized bowl or ziplock bag. Combine chicken and coat. Let marinate for at least one hour, or as long as possible. 
  2. Preheat oven to 350. 
  3. In a medium sized bowl, mix flour, egg, milk and more salt, pepper and dash of paprika until smooth, to create a batter. 
  4. In separate shallow bowl or pan, crush cornflakes. 
  5. Remove chicken from marinade and dip into batter and then again into crushed cornflakes. Place evenly on a foiled and greased cooking pan. 
  6. Drizzle coated chicken with melted coconut oil. 
  7. Bake at 350 for one hour until tender, and chicken is no longer pink inside and juices run clear. 
  8. Do not cover pan or turn chicken while baking. Serve hot. 

Image

I served the chicken up on baby spinach with a warm, limey blackened corn salad and roasted pickled beets (don’t ask what’s in the corn salad- I I made it in a rush and I honestly don’t recall- but I know that it includes bulgar wheat, fried onions and red pepper, cumin, parsley, cayenne, honey and lime). The pickled beet salad is from the Polish deli next door ( which I’m obsessed with, and often clean them out of their stock!)  

I thought this meal came together bee-autifully. 

Try it out, guilt free. 

M x

 

 

Favourite Things: April Edition

1 May

A day late, a buck short.

Oops!

It was a very busy month full of transition (finished undergrad!), a quick West coast trip and a few Sephora splurges. Here are a few of my favourite things about April.

Weddings

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We went to Vancouver for Easter weekend to witness two amazing people get married. I love weddings.

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A group shot during the festivities, after a beautiful ceremony, lovely dinner and several Negronis.

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Some urban wildlife.

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And stumbling upon a quintessentially Vancouver scenario- a weed rally on 4/20

Although it was mostly rainy and I only got a quick clear view of the mountains, I still knew they were there by the fresh West coast air. Toronto’s got many things, but its got nothing on that.

Hibiscus

Is one of my favourite eateries in Kensington Market. The salad is worth the trip alone. It is at once both epic and refined: sweet potato, kelp noodles, lentils, broccoli, kale, carrots, beets, quinoa, tofu, currants, sesame, mint, green onion with a side of some sort of raw cracker. Oh my. The buckwheat crepe is pear, pecans and vegan cheddar. So homey and delicious. Hibiscus is the perfect spot to bring a book or a friend to enjoy on a rainy day.

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Two Faced Melted Liquified Lip Stick

I’m somewhat of a beauty product junkie and love to read about the latest and greatest. I’m excited to share this lipstick I picked up on a whim thanks to some strategic product placement at Sephora. The pigment is super bright, long wearing, and the application is so easy- no need to pair with lip liner (hurray!). There is another stunning shade called Orchid I’m dying to get my hands on, but it was sold out at the time. I want one of every shade.

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Tarte Cheek Stain

This one is called Blissful. I read some silly celebrity beauty profile about Anna Kendrick, and she claimed that she “doesn’t leave the house” without this. She always looks great and I respect her on Twitter so naturally, I had to try it. I really like the Tarte line because it is free of synthetic ingredients. You just swipe it on and blend it in. I use it on my lips too and it actually tastes good (so weird). It feels a little sticky at first but that goes away quickly. And it sounds crazy, but I enjoy not having to use a brush.

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New MacBook Air

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Best. Grad Present. Ever.

I’m so lucky.

Hoo-Ray for May!

M

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This and That: Aubergine with Lemon and Raw Garlic, Smokey Bacon Jam on Rye with Cream Cheese, Poached Eggs

29 Apr

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This past weekend my mum came to stay with me. I had to work the whole weekend, but she didn’t seem to mind. While I was gone she filled the fridge, scrubbed the stubborn old bathtub and cooked cool things, like bacon jam. She also kept us well stocked with wine and gin.

It’s the little things.

Although she’s back home, her recipes are now immortalized with these photos of the plate of leftovers I had today for lunch, which included that smokey bacon jam. She also made this awesome roasted eggplant pickled in lemon juice, raw garlic and plenty of parsley that is a must-share. In addition: rye toast, tangy cream cheese, poached eggs, avocado slices and salad.

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Sweet and Smokey Bacon Jam
Recipe from food.com. Yield 1.75 cups

You’ll need:
– 1 lb bacon, sliced into small peices
– 4 cloves garlic, chopped
– 1 medium brown onion, sliced
– 3 tablespoons brown sugar
– 1 tsp Sriracha
– 1 cup brewed coffee
– 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
– 1/4 cup maple syrup
– black pepper
– liquid smoke
– extra water

1) Fry bacon in batches until browned and slightly crispy
2) Fry onion and garlic in rendered bacon fat on medium until translucent
3) Transfer onions, garlic and bacon into heavy cast iron pot and add rest of the ingredients except water
4) Simmer for two hours adding 1/4 cup water every 30 minutes or so and stir frequently.
5) Cool about 15-20 minutes and place in food processor. Pulse 2-3 seconds, as to leave some texture for the jam.

6) Enjoy the endless possibilities- on a burger, on toast, on a sandwich, with cheese and crackers, by the spoonful….

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Roasted Eggplant with Raw Garlic , Parsley and Lemon
Also from food.com

You’ll need:
– 1 large eggplant
– 1 tablespoon good quality olive oil, more as needed
– 4 cloves garlic
– 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
– 1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley

1) Wash eggplant, cut off stem, leave peel on
2) Slice into quarter inch slices and brush each side with olive oil and sprinkle of salt
3) Bake at 375 for 35 – 40 minutes
4) In a bowl, combine garlic, lemon juice, 1 tablespoon olive oil and salt and drizzle over plated and cooked eggplant. Cover with parsley and serve.

Keeps well in fridge served cold!

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My day off never tasted so good.

Thanks Mum!

M

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Rosemary and Balsamic-Glazed Pork Chops

18 Apr

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This was a super easy and quick recipe to whip-up. In fact, Scott made this as I coached him (with feet-up) from the kitchen table (so fun!). These chops would be great for when you have company and are caught off guard have not a lot of time to prepare.

You’ll Need
-6 tablespoons good balsamic vinegar
-2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
-1/4 sea salt
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-2 boneless centre-cut pork chops
-1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1) Chop garlic and rosemary finely, mix with salt and pepper to create a rub.

2) Place vinegar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and cook until reduced by half (about 5 minutes). Don't burn! (Learned this the hard way!)

3) Heat a grill pan to medium high. Rub pork with rosemary mixture on both sides. Place pork in the pan and cook for about 5 minutes on each side until desired done-ness. Baste in balsamic glaze throughout cooking process, while reserving some for final drizzle.

4) Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Tip: bring raw pork to room temperature before cooking (but not too long if exposed to air!). It helps with tenderness. Optional: marinating pork in milk for a few hours before also helps to tenderize.

Enjoy while lounging in front of reruns of Modern Family or alternatively, while entertaining your own elegant, real life one.

M

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#TBT- My Best-Ever Vegan Chilli

15 Apr

Just wanted a re-vamp, or throwback if you will, to one of my personal and cult favourite posts: My Best Ever Vegan Chilli.

I have made this recipe countless times and it never disappoints.

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Find the original recipe here

The best part is the versatility, meaning you can use up any veggies you have on hand. Provided that the spices are consistent and you don’t burn it, this recipe is pretty much fail- proof!

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Chilli love, now with better photos.

Happy Thursday!

M

Reminiscing: My version of Thai Pad See Ew

11 Apr

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I was craving Beef Bourguingnon, a cozy dish I’ve been intending to make since there was snow on the ground  (not that long ago, to be fair). I bought the beef, the mushrooms, the fresh rosemary, thyme, pearl onions, bacon and egg noodles. I cracked open my copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking and GASPED. To my horror, I discovered the dish takes upwards of four hours to complete masterfully. I just didn’t have that kind of time.

The thin, flat egg noodles stood on the counter, forlorn, calling my name. I wanted them.

Attempting a Plan B, I was reminded me of my favourite dish when I was in Thailand, Pad See Ew, which is a lot like pad thai but with thicker, flatter noodles and a saltier sauce. That dish is traditionally made with rice noodles, but the shape and texture is similar.

Bingo.

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I was inspired by this recipe by Rachel Cooks Thai, but I added to it.

Pad See Ew

  • 1/2 package of fresh wide, flat rice noodles (sen yai), (or egg noodles)
  • 2 chicken breasts, thawed and cubed
  • 4 cloves garlic, shredded or minced finely
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, shredded finely
  • 3/4 of a red bell pepper, finely sliced
  • 1/2 head of broccoli, sliced thinly
  • 6 mushrooms, finely sliced
  • 3 spring onions, roughly chopped
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar or honey
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • Peanuts, roughly chopped for garnish
  • Sesame seeds for garnish
  • Fresh cilantro (optional)
  • Chili flakes (optional)
  • Sqeeze fresh lime juice (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (for frying)
  1. Prepare your sauce by mixing together the soy sauce, oyster sauce, honey and vinegar. Set aside.
  2. Chop peppers and mushrooms. Saute in hot wok with coconut oil until tender.
  3. Blanch noodles in boiling water until almost cooked.
  4. Over high heat, add garlic and ginger and fry until fragrant and almost browned. Add chicken and cook through.
  5. Push the chicken and veggies to the side of the wok and add the egg to a clear space. Scramble.
  6. Push the egg to the side and add the noodles and the sauce. Mix it all together and cook over high heat until most of the liquid is evaporated (about 5 minutes)
  7. Add the broccoli and spring onions and cook through.
  8. Serve immediately with garnishes!

This was so good, fast and fresh. It took about 25 minutes start to finish. I would recommend prepping as much as possible before heating up the wok- slice, dice and chop everything ahead of time for speedier results. A vegetarian version would be simple- swap out chicken for tofu.

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I’ve been such a bad blogger lately- I’m finishing school and starting a new job at the same time, and have sadly not had much time to cook. But I just wrote and submitted my last-ever essay this morning. My blog was the first thing I turned to! A good sign for things to come? ( Hope so)

M

P.s. memories of picnic spots past…sigh

thailand thailand 2

 

 

 

 

 

Harissa Spiced Tofu Bowl with Cured Lemon Cous-Cous and Herbed Yogurt

9 Mar

YUM. A colourful and spicy triumph. This whole dish was inspired by an experiment with preserved lemons (which I made ages ago) yet mysteriously had not been enlisted to bolster any recipes. They are my new favourite ingredient. I love Middle Eastern flavours.  It may be my favourite kind of food (after Indian, obvs), and something I’d like to experiment with much, much more.

All of the elements of this dish worked together beautifully. The tofu was spicy and chewy, the couscous fluffy and savory, the avocado rich, and the tangy herbed yogurt tied it all together seamlessly.

20140309-235243.jpgThis was also my first time making Harissa paste. It is a Tunesian hot pepper paste that is usually made with fresh hot red peppers. I didn’t have any of these on hand, so I substituted them for dried chili powder and smokey paprika. It was pretty easy and packed a huge punch of flavour. I can’t wait to try it out again (with fish, with chicken, with chickpeas, and and and…)

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Harissa Paste: 

  • 1/2 half teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3-4 cloves garlic (crushed or shredded)
  • 3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  1. Mix.

I then coated the tofu cubes with the spice paste and let it sit for 1 hour (the longer the better). On an oiled baking sheet I baked the tofu with lemon slices at 350 for about 45 minutes. (I really like baked lemons, bothvisually and for a cleansing, sour finish to the meal!)

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Meanwhile, I prepared the cous cous and yogurt.

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Moroccan Spiced CousCous

  • 1 medium sized onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne (or to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • cherry tomatoes, halved
  • red pepper, sliced
  • 2 small dates, chopped (or substitute raisins or dried apricots)
  • juice of 1/2 fresh lemon
  • olive oil
  • 3/4 tablespoon cured lemon rind (chopped finely)
  1. In a small pot, bring 3.5 cups of salted water to a boil (optional: use vegetable or chicken stock). Once boiling point is reached, add two cups of couscous and remove from heat. Add one tablespoon olive oil and cover tightly.
  2. Meanwhile, in small frying pan, fry onions until soft (about 6 minutes). Add spices (minus the parsley) and fry over medium heat until fragrant (about 2 minutes) mixing well. Add some coconut oil if the pan gets too dry. This should form a nice paste.
  3. Once couscous is ready (about 5 minutes) remove lid and fluff gently with a fork. Add to frying pan and mix wit onion and spice mixture. Add raw tomatoes, peppers, lemon juice, lemon rind, dates and parsley, taste for salt and adjust accordingly. Mix well.

This made for awesome leftovers.

“What is cured lemon rind?” I hear you wondering. It’s basically lemons pickled in their own juice with lots of salt and a few spices. You only use the rind for flavour, and a little bit goes a really long way to brighten up any dish.  I was inspired by Chuck Hughes’ Food Network show Chuck’s Day Off, which I love. He put it on fish, and made it look so sexy (the fish I mean).

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You should try it out!

Cured Lemons:

  • 4 lemons
  • 1.5 cups course sea salt
  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon peppercorns
  • 4 kefir lime leaves

Read more 

Cured things make me happy. Listen to this song while making these for a double whammy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RS_ux2H473I

Now onto the easiest/yummiest concoction…

Herbed Yogurt

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or one clove fresh garlic
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped cilntro
  • 1 teaspoon dried chives
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • pinch brown sugar, to taste

If you do nothing else, make sure you include this yogurt. It made the meal, in my opinion!

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To serve, pile all elements haphazardly into one bowl. I served with a dollop of garlic hummus, avocado, sesame flat breads and fresh cilantro.

Dayyyum.

And that’s how we do March.

M

My Favourite Things: February, 2014

24 Feb

February itself is NOT one of my favourite things. Speaking as a Canadian experiencing our coldest winter in 40 years, I can officially declare that February is in fact my least favourite of all months. There. I said it. Good riddance.

To brighten things up, In no particular order I’ve decided to post about the various things, large or small, that have brought me some joy, over the past month.

ONE:  You know a product is good when you are already nervous about running out of it right from the start. Amiright?20140227-224208.jpg

This Josie Maran Argan Infinity Cream– has been a godsend for me while stuck in this 100+ year old apartment full of super drying, old school rads (not as charming as they look). This stuff is apparently good for lots of uses, lips, face, hands, split ends, flyways. It is apparently the duct tape of beauty products.

Personally, I like to use it most on the dry areas of my face. I usually get dry, itchy cheeks in the winter but no longer (!)  thanks to this stuff. I also like to use it on my décolleté and cuticles. It works on lips, but not as well as true lip balms do (too light). It smells yummy too, kind of citrus-y and little bit goes a long way. Bonus: it is free of nasty chemicals.

TWO: Another stellar performer in my beauty arsenal is this homemade brown sugar body scrub. It too has been a saviour for dreaded dry winter skin.  PLUS: it is extremely economical and easy to make. Simply mix!

  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  •  1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil.
  • Optional: add a few drops of essential oil like tea tree, mint or vanilla.

20140227-224253.jpg20140227-224240.jpg I use this in the shower as an exfoliate, and it leaves my skin very soft. It’s also great in the summer for extra glow. The best part is you don’t need to use moisturizer after. This has replaced  my use of coconut oil, which I find to be way more greasy. Try it out!

P.s I know it is popular on Pinterest, but do not, under any circumstances, make the same mistake I did and attempt to make a body scrub out of coffee grounds (huge mess).

THREE:  Clothing Swaps. The only thing that would keep me away from a clothing swap is severe illness or maybe a natural disaster. These. Are. The. Best. Who doesn’t love free clothes you never knew you never knew you loved?! Here are some of my recent favourite scores: 

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FOUR: Olympic hockey was another blessing this February. The Olympics in general really helped pass the dreary time (hundreds of billions of dollars well spent!) Who knew I could stay up until 3 am watching bobsledding? Or curling?! The apex of excitement of course was Canada winning gold in men’s AND women’s hockey AGAIN. Suck it USA.

(I’m sorry that our sense of national pride is so concentrated in this one sport)

Here is a photo of us at 7 am on a Sunday. 7amWe showed up to our neighbourhood pub at 6:45 and were denied for lack of a reservation (surreal).

FIVE:  Solo sojourns to the AGO. Nothing makes you feel more like a grown up than going to see an art exhibit by yourself on a Thursday afternoon. This was actually so amazing. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a major audio tour enthusiast. My idea of a dream holiday would be to go to Rome (or Paris or the middle of nowhere really) and listen to every last audio tour in town.

Here are some pics of our ugly, glorious and dynamic city. Plus some of Ghery’s magnificent design  in the ghost-town gallery (there was a hockey game on?)

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The Great Upheaval Guggenheim masterpieces exhibit is on (until March 2nd), with works from Matisse, Picasso, Marc, Kandinsky and Duchamp displayed chronologically in an understated way. A complete departure from the crowded Sunday madness that was the David Bowie exhibit, obviously, and a very relaxing way to while away an afternoon. (I actually went for a school assignment, but that was an afterthought if we’re being real. I came to analyze this beauty, Picasso’s (post-upheaval) Seated Woman (1927). 

SIX: Buying tickets to summer music festivals. This is a little bit painful in the frigid  grips of our third polar vortex, but it should be mostly over by early June, no?

Last week we got tickets to hometown festival Field-trip, which is two days in June this year (Broken Social Scene! The Kills! Chvrches! Washed Out!) and also to Pitchfork (again) for three days in Chicago (Kendrick Lamar, Beck, Neutral Milk Hotel, Grimes!) While I didn’t take a single audio tour last year in Chicago, I’m also SO.EXCITED. FOR. BECK.

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SEVEN: Making cured lemons. Thank you Chuck Hughes (my recipe to follow)

EIGHT: Getting out of the city and watching this little guy tryski-ding” for the very first time! Winter is much more charming in rural settings. Cozy ski chalets don’t hurt either!

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NINE: Listening to Phosphorescent perform Songs For Zula live once more, this time at The Mod Club.

That is all. 

phosp

Bring on March

M

Italian Turkey Meatballs with Balsamic Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Brussel Sprouts

19 Feb

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My search for the perfect meatball recipe has come to an end. After an arduous journey (not really)  I can safely say that this is the one. And turkey at that. Colour me surprised.

Very juicy, very flavourful, lovely texture and extremely light. Perfection.

I served these babies on a bed of brown rice with a homemade tomato sauce and balsamic roasted brussel sprouts and cherry tomatoes. Over all a pretty healthy meal, and couldn’t be easier.

Italian Turkey Meatballs
(30 minutes) (makes approx 16 meatballs)

  • 1 package lean ground turkey (approx 1 lb)
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2/3 cup panko (or traditional breadcrumbs)
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 2 teaspoons dried garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon dried chillies
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Splash balsamic vinegar (approx 2 teaspoons)

1) preheat oven to 400. In large bowl, assemble all ingredients and mix well.
2) Form into small round meatballs (makes about 16) and place on baking rack
3) Bake 15-20 minutes, until no longer pink in the middle.

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I roasted the tomatoes and brussle sprouts simultaneously, although they needed about 25-30 minutes at 400. I covered generously with olive oil and some sea salt. Half way through roasting I drizzled on some balsamic and sprinkled with a bit of brown sugar and returned to the oven. I broiled them for the last 5 minutes to give the sprouts a bit more colour.

They turned out to be a perfect addition to the dish. The textures worked well with the meatballs, as the sprouts were basically melt-in-your-mouth soft.

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I made a simple tomato sauce by sautéing 3 cloves of garlic in olive oil along with 2 teaspoons of fennel seeds and diced red pepper. Once soft, I added crushed tomatoes and seasoned with salt, pepper, brown sugar and some dried chillies and a splash of balsamic. I made the sauce first, and added a 1/4 cup to the meatball mixture before baking.

I layered the sauce over the rice and topped with the meatballs, which I covered with more sauce and the roasted vegetable. I topped it all off with fresh basil and grated Parmesan cheese.

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I was thrilled with this recipe. I hope you try it out. Let me know if you do!

M

West African Peanut Stew

14 Feb

Old Man Winter, you bastard.

Cold ears. Dry skin. Static-y hair. Runny noses. Short days. Long sleeves. Slush.

I’m having a mild bout of winter blahs. I’ve been busy watching the Olympics and not motivated to do much extra, such as cooking interesting things and writing about it. I’m afraid the ole’ blog has suffered!

I’m sorry.  I’ll be better.

I hope this post makes up for it, because it is the perfect antidote for a cold winter night.

Don’t get me wrong, I love chili, I really really do. Everyone should have a killer recipe (like this one!) in their repertoire (arsenal? I can’t decide). But let’s face it, sometimes its boring. Like stir fry. I could make it blindfolded.

May I suggest something to shake things up? How about this spicy and hearty peanut stew? Try it out! It was seriously satisfying.

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West African a Peanut Stew
(Serves 4-5. Time: 1 hour. Adapted from Saveur) 

  • 6-8 chicken drumsticks
  • 1/4 cup finely grated fresh ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 fresh red chilis
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 cup roasted peanuts (unsalted)
  • 4 cups chicken broth (or water)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Cilantro, to garnish
  • Fresh lemon

Directions
1) Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large pot and brown chicken drumsticks over medium high heat until browned on all sides (approx 10 minutes). Set aside.
2) Meanwhile, prep onions, garlic, ginger and 1 chilli and add to hot pot once chicken is removed. Sautée with a more oil until soft and fragrant (about 5 minutes).
3) Add spices (turmeric, cinnamon, pepper, coriander, cumin, cloves) and fry for about one minute.
4) Add tomato paste and cook until slightly caramelized, about 3 minutes. Add peanut butter. Stir until melted and incorporated.
5) Return chicken to pot along with stock (or water) and tomatoes. Bring to a boil.
6) Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer about 25 minutes.
7) Add sweet potato and cook until tender, about another 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.
8) Season with salt and add roasted peanuts and second chopped fresh chilli. Finish with squeeze of fresh lemon juice and garnish with fresh cilantro.

Yum. This stew is really filling, and made great leftovers. The chicken was fall-off-the-bone tender, but I’m sure it would still be great vegan-ized with tofu. I liked the crunch of the peanuts.

I served it over couscous (aka the lazy-man’s rice) with salad. The next day we had it with sautéed balsamic mushrooms, salad and flatbreads.

Note: my peppers were not extremely spicy, so I did not de-seed them. Proceed with caution if you think yours may be hotter. Also, if you think the stew is too thick, add one more cup of liquid.

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What are your favourite winter recipes? How do you stay sane at this time of year? Let me know below!

Thanks for reading.

M

Vegan Thai Green Curry with Tofu

21 Jan

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Things I Dislike:
1) being windswept
2) fluorescent lighting
3) the term “amazeballs”

Things I Like:
1) great cover songs
2) magazine subscriptions arriving by mail
3) green curry

Hopefully you like # 3 too.

Here is a simple recipe that really hit the spot on a cold, cold night.

Vegan Thai Green Curry

(30 minutes. Serves 2 with some leftover)

  • 1 small white onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 red pepper, sliced thinly
  • 1 handful fresh green beans, sliced thinly
  • 5 mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 small head broccoli
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 package firm tofu, cut into smallish cubes.
  • 1/2 can coconut cream
  • 2 cups almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons green curry paste
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1.5 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • Juice of 1/2 fresh lime
  • Zest of 1/2 fresh lime
  • 3 kafir lime leaves
  • Sesame seeds (for garnish)
  • Coconut oil (for frying)
  1. In a hot pan, fry thinly sliced onion, mushrooms and red pepper with coconut oil until soft. Add curry paste and mix well.
  2. Reduce heat to medium and add crushed garlic. Cook until fragrant and stir in the coconut cream and almond milk.
  3. Add kafir lime leaves. Bring to a low boil.
  4. Reduce heat and add tofu and seasonings (sugar, soy sauce, lime zest, lime juice). Adjust according to personal taste.
  5. Finish with broccoli, green beans and cilantro (do not over cook). Remove lime leaves. Garnish with sesame seeds.
  6. Serve immediately with rice!

Notes: 

In Thailand, restaurants usually have four condiments on the table:  sweet (sugar), sour (lime juice or vinegar) , salty (fish/soy sauce) and spicy (chilies) . People generally customize their dishes according to their preferences. Feel free to try this! Or, if you trust me, this recipe is balanced to what I think is just perfect.

I used Aroy-D brand green curry paste. It is pretty hot! Depending on your taste, maybe add less curry paste to start off.

I used Arvinda’s kafir lime leaves. They are like bay leaves, but have a lush flavour that add dimension to this curry. You can buy them at most grocery stores.

Coconut milk varies widely from full fat to lite. For this dish, I used coconut cream (about 6 tablespoons or 1/2 can) of the full fat version.  Coconut cream is the really thick creamy stuff that rises to the top of the “light” versions. If you want to use lite coconut milk, add the whole can and reduce the almond milk to only 1 cup.

Cut the peppers thinly, and the green beans too. I sliced the beans in half lengthwise (slightly tedious) , but worth it for the overall texture of the dish.

Please add fresh basil to this dish if you have it! I sadly, did not.

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Enjoy!

M

Easy Homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup

16 Jan

Someone in this apartment does not much care for mushrooms. That being said, he’s been slowly coming around.

So… I decided to push this soup on him.

I loved it. (Too much, too soon?)

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It is really easy and fast with a rich, deep flavour.

Not recommended for those who are shy around mushrooms.

Easy Homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup 

Serves 4, total time: approx 20 minutes. Adapted from this recipe from food.com

  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 3 cups (approx) thinly sliced mushrooms
  • 1 small white onion, chopped finely
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups stock (vegetable or chicken. I used homemade chicken stock)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • Pinch sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Slice mushrooms, and fry with onions, garlic and butter.  Add wine and Dijon and reduce (approx 5 minutes)
  2. Stir in 2 tablespoons flour.
  3. Add stock and stir frequently until well incorporated and slightly thickened.
  4. Stir in cream with remaining 1 tablespoon flour. Add remaining seasonings (salt, pepper, nutmeg, sugar)
  5. Serve hot!

This beats the gloopy sodium bomb that is canned cream of mushroom soup any day. I lightened up the cream quotient by substituting milk, to minimize the January guilt pangs. For a soup that eats like a meal, add a hearty scoop of cooked quinoa.

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Yum!

M

Caribbean Spiced Pork Ribs Revisited

7 Jan

Two years ago today I posted this recipe. It was one of my first ever posts! Unsurprisingly, it got very little attention.

So, I decided to revisit this little gem, because I remembered it being mag-nificent. Besides, it is cold as psshhht outside, so why not contrast the winter chill with a little spicy jerk heat and beachy daydreams?

The rub is fairly easy and extremely flavourful, chock full of fresh ginger and lime zest. It would also be awesome on chicken or maybe (?) even tofu! ( I’ll have to experiment with that one, stay tuned)

Fork poised.

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Brrr.

This recipe indulges my love of spices. We have just finally recently got our spice act together along with some new and overdue shelves.

Can I show off our cute little kitchen for a sec?!

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It makes me happy.

I served these ribs with lime roasted sweet potatoes and blackened corn and quinoa salad.

Caribbean Spiced Pork Ribs
Serves 4, approx 28 ribs (or eat for dinner and then again for breakfast)

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • zest and juice of 2 limes
  • 4 tablespoons fresh grated ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons white (or black) pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 cups of orange juice (can also substitute water here)

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1) Preheat oven to 350.
2) Assemble rub (minus the OJ)  and mix well. Press the rub into the ribs on both sides, but more thickly on the top side. Add to roasting pan with 2 cups of orange juice.
3) Bake for 1.5 hours, covered in foil. Baste occasionally. Remove foil and cook an additional 20 minutes.
4) Remove and serve with choice of sides.

Yum. Dinner. And again with eggs for breakfast.

Decadent.

M

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Food and Frivolity, 2013 in Photos and Recipes

30 Dec

It was rare for me to conceptualize my life in arbitrary segments of time (i.e. Jan-December, 2013) before I started blogging, but there’s something nice about documenting time in this way. It feels organized. It feels official.

Although I already sorta knew it to be true, writing this post has made me realize what a fun year it has been. Which is a lucky thing, is it not?

I’ve chosen to share some of my favourite recipes of each month (note: there was a rather large summertime gap in posting (May-September) but as you will see I was clearly busy travelling and carousing).

Besides, it’s been quite some time since I’ve injected some “mostly” into Food, Mostly.

So this is my 2013 roundup. These are my highlights. A virtual time capsule on my tiny corner of the internet. Let’s begin.

January

In the middle of a frigid Canadian January, I turned 27. I got an amazing gift that day, a gorgeous Cannon G15 camera from Scott, which I believe has helped the blog photography tremendously (see below photo- post new camera. Terrible! Although I’m still no expert).

January birthdays are a bit bittersweet. There are no fun birthday BBQs or camping trips, inevitably, there is always a snow storm. However, having a birthday at this time does make the month a little brighter and breaks up the winter tedium a bit! At least for me. Suckers.

This recipe for potato leek soup surprised me at how tasty it turned out to be. I remember that this was my first time cooking with leeks. I bought them mistakenly thinking they were anise. Ha. Anyway, the  result was awesome.

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February

February stands out only a little. There was a huge snow storm that cancelled classes.  I did a sugar-free, gluten and dairy free cleanse. And instead of studying I made these black bean, walnut and mushroom burgers. This recipe is  hands down my most popular in terms of hits and searches.

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20131230-191011.jpgI enjoyed watching this neighbourly act transpire spontaneously. I wasn’t much help, I guess.

March

Hmmm….looks like I didn’t post anything in March! Must have been consumed with essays. We were also getting ready to move. Next.

April 

This dish was apparently made in March(that’s the old kitchen!), but posted in April. It was a recipe created by a friend of mine, who makes excellent Indian food. In 2013, I have followed suit in experimenting with Indian cooking. I think curries are my favourite thing to make now. Here is the recipe that started it all: Erin’s Chana Masala.

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 May was a doozy! Here’s when I took a long summer’s nap from blogging (tsk tsk). It was a busy month. My cousin Mark got married in Arlington, TX. We went down for the wedding and took a side trip to Austin and San Antonio. There was a lot of eating, drinking, exploring and shenanigans.

Absolutely loved Austin. I’d like to go back again sometime for a music festival or two. The food, notably the Mexican, Tex-Mex and BBQ was outstanding and seemingly endless.

Here’s my little bro at his first baseball game. Red Sox versus Rangers. Rangers won!

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Scott, giving JFK the business

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Contemplating getting tattooed over margaritas (always wise). Did we or didn’t we?? Hmm…

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Favourite thing we ate in Austin, the enchiladas verdes gratinadas from El Naranjo, 85 Rainey Street. This resto started as a food truck that became super popular. God, I love me some tomatillo salsa! Cute backyard patio in a cool neighbourhood, where all the old historic bungalows have been turned into bars and restaurants. Kinda reminds me of Markham Street in Toronto. But way better.

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Here we are off Rainey Street at G’RajMahal (great name), an outdoor Indian restaurant in a converted garage slash tent compound (91 Red River) . I believe the kitchen is actually a food truck. We were joined by our local tour guide, April. I have no recollection of what we ate, just that it was awesome and we were stuffed and we brought our own booze. Then we went to a bar that had $5 beer/ tequila shot combos. Hence the nervous faces in the middle lower photo.

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If May wasn’t exciting enough, Scott turned 30, and our friends Mike and Brittany visited from California/Utah. We spent a week hanging out in Toronto, and had a big backyard birthday party. Because it was Brittany’s first time North of the border, we brought them to Montreal too. I didn’t take a lot of pics in Montreal for some reason(too drunk?) . We rented an awesome Air B n’ B apartment in Le Plateau, and spent every night chilling on the back patio enjoying  beverages purchased from the local dépanneur. A novelty which never ceases to amaze visiting Ontarians.

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Here they are humouring an aggressive street performer. This was eventually abandoned because after about twenty minutes,  nothing much was happening, except for this manic man running around making racist jokes in a French Canadian accent. Au revoir.

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It was so nice to spend time with these two. We were sad to say “farewell”.

June. 

The highlight of June was Field-trip, an outdoor festival at Fort York put on by Arts and Crafts. The highlights were hometown bands, Timber Timbre, Feist and Broken Social Scene, who played one of my all time favourite albums You Forgot It In People front to back. It was an awesome day.

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July

We drove to The Windy City for Pitchfork Music Festival. I fell in love with Chicago. Musical highlights included Joanna Newsom, Bjork, MIA, Killer Mike, Blood Orange and Phosphorescent. Also getting caught after the show one night in one of the most epic rainstorms was memorable (in a good way). Drenched. I must admit, Pitchfork puts on an awesome festival. Good sound, good crowd flow, decent food, and it is the perfect size (way more chilled out than Bonnaroo). Only downside is no in-and-out privileges, which would have been ideal. I’m dying to go back to Chicago.

20131230-192717.jpg Frickin’ love that bean thing!

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Must also include this kale taco salad that had spicy peanuts and cranberries in it from Antique Taco, (1360 N Milwaukee Ave). We returned two days in a row just for this ridiculousness!

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Also in July, my beautiful friend Grace had her baby shower. Here she is about to burst. Soon her baby, River, would join us in this world.

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August

August was rather uneventful. Although I did host a clothing swap, which has become one of my absolute favourite things. The thrilling thing is you never know what you’re going to get. Some winners! Some duds! Some wildcards! All for free! I’ve found some of my favourite items this way.

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I should have taken more photos of the food. These gals didn’t skimp. We had quite the feast.

September
September was my triumphant return to blogging! These Bourbon-Miso pork chops shoved themselves into the limelight. Delightful. I made them twice, the second time for my mum on the eve of our quick four-day trip to the beautiful Isla Mujeres, Mexico. We stayed in the Privilige Aluxes Isla Mujeres, a stunning resort. The island itself is tiny, only 7 kilometers long. We, along with other silly tourists,  drove around on golf carts. It was fun.

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Another September highlight was the labour day weekend we spent at Scott’s grandparents chalet at Beaver Valley with Mike and Kiara. Fun and games, is what it was. And wine.

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October

October was a productive month in the kitchen. I think my favourite post was this Persian Eggplant Stew. It renewed my faith in eggplant.

November
Was my best ever month on Food, Mostly. My average daily views doubled that of my previous best month (January, 2012). Exciting!

My favourite part of November was cooking this Indian feast for friends that helped us move way back in April. It was labour intensive, but I think really elevated my skill in cooking Indian food. I’ve included my recipe for chicken Vindaloo.

We had Scott’s family over a few weeks later, and I replicated and tweaked some of the recipes I used. With practice the cooking was more effortless and the result was, dare I say, even tastier?

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December

It was cold and icy, but Christmas was toasty and warm.

My favourite December recipe was hands down this vegan “Butter-Chicken” with fried tofu. So easy and so delicious. I’ll definitely be making more of this in the new year.

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Upon reflection, I’ve been very “in the moment” this year. Maybe too much so. I don’t think I really realized how good 2013 was until right now. Good friends, good family, good food, good fortune.

What more could a girl ask for?

Thank you for reading. I hope you continue to follow along and share my posts! It makes my day!

Happy New Year Y’all!

xo

M

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Spaghettini in White Wine Cream Sauce with Sausage, Capers and Garlic Confit

18 Dec

I made this recipe while half in the bag. It culminated after a spirited afternoon of listening to music and chatting with my love in the company of lots of wine and year end best-of lists. Miraculously, this dish emerged as an elegant meal that only added to our evening. It was rich and packed with flavour, perfect for soothing the transition into early winter darkness that is, frankly, super depressing.

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If you’ve never made garlic confit before, you probably should. It is super easy and can be added to almost any dish to add some finishing oomph. It is essentially whole cloves of garlic slow cooked in olive oil until soft. It’s a lot like roasted garlic, but the bonus is the by product garlic-infused olive oil that can (and should) be saved for future sauces and dressings. I die.
I made a batch before hand (which inspired this pasta dish now that I think about it ((foggy)). The most annoying part is peeling the cloves, but luckily the garlic I had comprised of those dreamy, huge, easy to peel bulbs which made my life a lot less tedious. Just peel garlic (don’t smash!) and submerge in good quality olive oil, over low heat simmer for about an hour to an hour and a half until very soft. Reserve the garlic and olive oil and use in future dishes (i.e everything).
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Spaghettini in White Wine Cream Sauce with Sausage, Capers and Garlic Confit 
  • 8 cloves garlic confit (or roasted garlic)
  • 1 fresh red pepper
  • 2 cups fresh cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 1 cup dry white wine (or whatever you be drinking)
  • 3 Italian sausages
  • Pasta (about four servings)

(To Garnish)

  • Dried (or fresh) parsley
  • Red chili flakes
  • Fresh black pepper
  • Parmesan
  • Sea salt

Hmmm…let’s see if I remember this correctly now (I kid)

  1. Pre heat oven to 350-375 degrees. On baking sheet, place sliced red pepper and whole cherry tomatoes tossed in olive oil and salt in the oven. Set timer for one hour.
  2. Meanwhile, place peeled garlic cloves in low simmering olive oil for 30-40 minutes, or until soft. Your house will smell amazing.
  3. When veggies and garlic are almost done, in a  separate pan fry the  sausages in bite sized pieces. I removed them from their casing for a more rustic feel (about 10 minutes over medium heat).
  4. To begin the sauce, in a medium sized frying pan, over high heat reduce wine to about 1/3 of liquid (about 4 minutes). Add butter and stir.
  5. Add capers and cream to the sauce and stir. (Tip: some capers are extremely salty, you may want to rinse them first). Remove two cloves of cooked garlic from the oil and break into the sauce. They should be very soft. Mix.  Taste for salt and let simmer over low heat.
  6. Cook pasta in boiling salted water until desired level of done-ness (for me, about 6 minutes). Strain pasta and leave just a little bit of starchy water in the pot.
  7. Return pasta to pot with water and mix about 2/3 of the cream sauce into the pasta along with the sausage.
  8. Once plated, top with the peppers, tomatoes, three cloves of cooked garlic along with the remaining sauce.
  9. Garnish with spices and cheese.

I really liked how the peppers and tomatoes turned out. Super packed with flavour, and just a little bit charred. Yum.

Quick! Eat this now before all your January diets start! (Or just wait until March when winter becomes just too much to bear without food like this).

Tell me, what’s your favourite winter comfort food? Maybe I’ll feature it on the blog! 

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Easy Wild Berry Crumble with Cardamom Crust

9 Dec

This is what a half eaten crumble looks like. Sorry, I was not swift enough with my photography! It was super tasty though.

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The beauty of this crumble is that you can whip it up quickfast for an easy dessert while entertaining. Assembly is fun in that non-precise way I tend to enjoy. The crust is also optional, so if you’re really pressed for time, just skip it altogether.

Crust
1.5 cups all purpose or pastry flour
1/2 cup butter at room temp
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
Pinch salt
Green cardamom pods (approx 8-10)

1) Mix flour and salt
2) Seperately, cream sugar and butter together and slowly add egg
3) Meanwhile, crack open cardamom pods and dry roast inner seeds for 3-4 minutes (do not burn). Crush with mortar and pestle and add to flour.
3) Slowly add flour mixture to butter/sugar until ball is formed
4) Flatten into a disk or baking dish, chill.

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Cardamom has a pretty distinct flavour, but mixed with the berries it’s subtle. It added just a little something extra to the overall dish. And since I was serving this as part of an(other) Indian dinner (surprised?) I thought it would tie it all together nicely.

Berry Crumble

1/2 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup oats
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small squares
4-5 cups mixed berries (I used frozen- blueberries, cherries, blackberries)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Juice of 1/2 fresh lemon
Pinch of salt

1) In a large bowl, combine flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, salt and oats. Mix. Cut in the butter.
2) In another bowl, combine berries, 1/2 cup sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Toss evenly to coat.
3) top crust with berry mixture, and then top that with oat mixture. Ensure cold butter is evenly distributed on top layer.
4) Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes until top is golden and fruit is bubbly.
5) Remove from oven and sprinkle with more brown sugar for crunch and some sea salt for flavour. Serve warm.

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Health food this is not. But delicious this is yes. ‘Tis the season and  yadda yadda yadda.

Vegan “Butter Chicken” with Fried Tofu

3 Dec

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I realize that my blog has been rather meat-centric lately. Although I’ve had some vegetarian posts here and there,  it has been awhile since I’ve shared any vegan dishes.

I’m certain come January when I’ve had my fill of Christmas-y cheese puffs, sausage rolls and pâté that I will concentrate on super healthy, veggie-filled recipes again.  That’s the plan. 

So, this one is for you in mind, vegans. And for me, a little head start on 2014.

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To continue on with my Indian kick, I present you with…

Vegan “Butter Chicken” with Fried Tofu 

  • 1 fresh green chili (I used jalapeno)
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 heaping tablespoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder (or to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 large can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can coconut milk (full fat is best)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar (or to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (for frying spices and tofu)
  • dash liquid smoke
  • 1 tablespoons dried fenugreek leaves
  • 1 package extra-firm tofu
  • Salt (to taste)
  1. Cut tofu into thick slices and press between paper towels to remove moisture for about 20 minutes, while preparing the sauce. Top with something heavy, like a cookbook.
  2. Meanwhile, in a pan at medium-high heat melt coconut oil and add 1 tablespoon garam masala. When it begins to puff and bubble, add garlic, ginger, chopped green chili and tomato.  Cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Add remaining spices and cook another few minutes until well mixed and fragrant.
  4. Stir in tomato paste, and then tomato puree. Bring to boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Add coconut milk, sugar and liquid smoke.
  5. Using a hand blender, blend sauce so that it is creamy and smooth, and all the spices are incorporated. Simmer until liquid has reduced about 1/4 (25 minutes or so). Add fenugreek leaves.
  6. Meanwhile, in separate pan, fry tofu slices in hot oil with salt until browned and a bit crispy.
  7. Remove from oil and chop into smaller bite sized pieces. Add to sauce.
  8. Serve curry with basmati or naan, top with fresh cilantro or more dried fenugreek leaves.
  9. Enjoy!

As for you meat eaters, fear not. This recipe is a real spicy, rich, hearty winner!

The sauce makes a great base, that would be good with almost anything; chicken (duh), chickpeas, tempeh or even pineapple. This recipe is pretty quick and easy as far as curries go. It smells amazing while it’s cooking and makes a pretty decent yield.

On a side note, in terms of views, November has high and above exceeded October (my previous best)  on Food, Mostly. It is super exciting to see the blog growing, slowly and steadily. I really appreciate all the sharing and comments from you guys. I love the engagement (that’s the whole point!), so if you like what you read, I encourage you to keep writing and sharing. It makes my day!

A sincerest,  “Thank You”

Maddie

An Unexpected Savoury Treat: Caramelized Onion and Cheddar Tart

26 Nov

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I’m not a good baker. It just doesn’t come naturally to me. Baking is too precise, with the measurements and temperatures and ingredients. My foolish experimentation has resulted in failure about half the time. I much prefer to cook and create my own recipes with various substitutions and additions. I find it super fun!

I also don’t have a huge sweet tooth. A piece of dark chocolate satisfies me rather than an extravagant cupcake. Not to say I haven’t had some successes , and even a few great ones. As they say, sometimes with great risk comes great reward. However, behind those baking triumphs lingers stressful memories, of wayward flecks of sugar-butter spinning uncontrollably about the kitchen, and nervous peeks into the oven every 5 minutes to check if the bread has risen, heart in mouth.

The beauty of this tart is that it was a result of another baking failure. Even though I made a successful batch of lemon curd just last week, this time I couldn’t get it to thicken (sadly a huge casualty of lemons and eggs). I was planning on bringing some cute lemon tart-lettes to a friend’s clothing swap, but this was just not meant to be!

Instead I saved the dough and the next day used it to make this cheese and onion tart.

It was a lovely plan B.

Crust

  • 1.5 cups all purpose or pastry flour
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup butter at room temperature
  • 1/4 sugar
  • 1 egg

1) mix flour and salt
2) in separate bowl, cream butter and sugar and slowly add egg
3) add flour to butter mixture and mix until ball is formed
4) on a floured surface, roll evenly and fit into a pie mould
5) chill

Meanwhile, do this:

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Over high heat, caramelize about 5 to 6 thinly sliced onions in oil or butter. Mix so the onions don’t burn, but not too frequently otherwise they won’t brown! Add pinch of salt and one teaspoon of sugar. Once browned, add drizzle of balsamic to cut the sweetness and mix. This should take approximately 20 minutes. Meanwhile, pre heat oven to 325.

Add grated cheddar evenly over cooled tart crust and then top with onions and fresh thyme. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until crust is browned at the edges and top with more fresh thyme and a sprinkle of salt.

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Note: this crust has a sweet, shortbread like consistency. If you’d prefer to use a different pastry recipe, please do!

The cheddar and thyme were a great combination with the onions, but Gorgonzola or chèvre would also be lovely. Maybe even some pear or sautéed mushrooms. The options are endless really.

Serve in small slices. Great for a holiday party!

Tell me: are you a cooker or a baker, or a candlestick maker both?

An Indian Feast and a Recipe for Chicken Vindaloo

21 Nov

On Sunday I cooked an Indian dinner for seven, as a long overdue “thank you” to our friends that helped us move way back in April. (Long. Overdue).

This may have been the most elaborate meal I’ve made to date.

I tried to find authentic recipes. I made palak paneer, eggplant bhartha, butter chicken (my mum’s recipe!),chicken vindaloo, sweet potato chutney, salad, rice, and a tangy lemon cardamom tart for dessert (to be featured in a future post). My favourite (as in, the only one I wouldn’t tweak at all) is the one I want to share with you today.

The chicken vindaloo was the winner! (Sorry mum, I didn’t use the heavy cream in the butter chicken after all. Sometimes mothers really do know best)

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This is what 10 hours in the kitchen looks like!

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But make no mistake, cooking for lovely people is one of my favourite ways to pass the time, and the day flew by.

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Chicken Vindaloo

Spicy, tangy, delicious.

  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onion (about 2 onions)
  • 2 tbls fresh grated ginger
  • 2 tsp cumin powder
  • 2 tsp yellow mustard seeds, ground
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • 1 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tabls paprika
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar (I used rice)
  • 2 tsp raw honey
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tbl tamarind paste
  • 1 tbl tomato paste

For Chicken Marinade: 

  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 tbl fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tbl fresh ginger
  • 1 tbl garam masala
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 healthy glugs olive oil
  1. In bowl or ziplock bag, marinate chopped chicken in yogurt mixture for at least an hour (3-4 is probably perfect, I did 5)
  2. Once ready to begin cooking, preheat oven to 400
  3. In hot pan fry onions until browned. Then add garlic and ginger until fragrant.
  4. Meanwhile, assemble spice mixture in small bowl.
  5. Once oven is hot, cook chicken in the marinade for about 20 minutes, stirring halfway through.
  6. Add spices to onion mixture and cook a few minutes until fragrant, stirring frequently.
  7. Add tamarind and tomato paste, as well as water.
  8. Using hand held blender or food processor, blend mixture until smooth.
  9. Add vinegar and honey.
  10. Once chicken is cooked, transfer (along with cooked marinade) into the sauce
  11. Cook uncovered over a low simmer until sauce has thickened, about 30 minutes.
  12. Sprinkle with fresh lemon juice and cilantro. Serve over basmati rice with naan.

This dinner was a huge success. I was so worried about not making enough food, but turns out I was way off. Today is Thursday and there is still a ton of leftovers in the fridge! (Although the vindaloo was the first to be polished off and half the lemon curd ended up spilled on the floor. Oops!)

I will definitely try out the butter chicken again and refine the other recipes as well.

Indian is my favourite cuisine. It is really fun to make, and especially EAT.

I’m hungry.

What’s your favourite Indian dish? 

My Go-to…Quinoa “Fried-Rice” with Egg

12 Nov

What I’m about to show you is kinda personal.

It’s my  not-a-recipe, what’s-for-breakfast/brunch/lunch/dinner??, boozy-morning-after, I-need-a-spicy-meal-now meal. In other words, my go-to, or what you’d get on a Sunday morning if you’ve crashed on our couch.

I decided to take a pic and share it here because this one was pretty special. It was topped with asparagusguys. Baby asparagus.

Swoon.

It’s my take on Korean fried rice (minus the kimchi). The beauty is you can throw in random veggies that need to be consumed in a timely manner,(but if you’ve got it, by all means add some kimchi!)

The key components here are quinoa (or rice), salsa, hot sauce and a gooey fried egg. (I like to have cooked rice or quinoa always on the go in the fridge for quick meals like this).

I cook it at a really high heat to make the quinoa/rice crispy, similar to the effect stone BiBimbap bowls create.

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Maddie’s Quinoa “Fried Rice” with Egg 

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa (or rice)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil (for frying)
  • 2 or 3 chopped scallions (for frying and some reserved for raw garnish)
  • 2 or 3 (heaping) tablespoons salsa (mild, medium or hot)
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1 medium onion (1/6th reserved for raw garnish)
  • 2 tablespoons dried onion flakes
  • 1 teaspoon raw honey
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried red chili flakes
  • hot sauce (to taste)
  • veggies (peppers, celery, spinach, or whatever you like)
  • fried egg
  • Salt and Pepper
  1. In oil, fry onions, scallions and veggies until browned in a large frying pan. Then add garlic and cook until fragrant. (Reserve some slivers of raw and green onion for garnish).
  2. Next, add rice/quinoa and salsa. Mix well. Then add vinegar, honey, hot sauce, salt, pepper and onion and chili flakes.
  3. Spread mixture evenly over surface of the pan and let cook over high heat. Do not mix! Cook about 5-7 minutes until mixture begins to brown and crisp up at the bottom.
  4. In separate pan, fry eggs.
  5. Remove mixture from pan using large spatula into bowls. Top with fried egg, onions and salt (maybe even asparagus!)
  6. Mix and enjoy

WARNING: I like it spicy! Adjust recipe according to your heat preference!

So there we have it, like being seen sans makeup, this is a rather revealing look into a pretty strong kitchen habit of mine. This is what I make in my most relaxed, pajama’d and disheveled state. Some people like Mac n’ Cheese, but this to me is the perfect comfort food.

20131112-225112.jpg(Since I’ve shown you so many posts from inside the kitchen, I thought I’d take a shot of the outside view.  So cozy!)

Tell me! What is your favourite go-to meal? 

Rosemary and Ruby-Red Roast Chicken

3 Nov

I had to write this short n’ sweet post to tell you how a forlorn single grapefruit abandoned in the bottom of the fridge inspired an incredible meal.

On a whim, I Goggled grapefruit and chicken and stumbled upon this gorgeous recipe from No Fuss Foods, which I then followed verbatim (rare for me). I’m glad I did because the end result was the juiciest and most herbaceous roast chicken EVER, and delivered serious flavour throughout. WARNING: only try this recipe if you really like rosemary.

I know I was just going on and on about how beautiful eggplants are…but really…does anything really beat a Ruby Red grapefruit?

20131103-232024.jpgI blended grapefruit juice (and some pulp) with garlic, salt, peppercorns, fresh rosemary and some olive oil.  Then I spooned the marinade (more like a paste) under the skin of the chicken.

Tip use a sharp pairing knife and gently loosen the skin all over the breast of the chicken, being careful not to puncture the skin. I also did this to the meaty part of the legs. Distribute as evenly as possible covering as much of the chicken under the skin as you can with the paste.

20131103-232040.jpgI roasted the chicken on top of a rack, and below added carrots, onions, sweet potato and sprigs of thyme sprinkled with sea salt, olive oil, and to finish fresh grapefruit juice. The drippings from the chicken mixed with the veg added more great flavour. I also stuffed the cavity with the grapefruit rind and more freaking rosemary.

The recipe said to roast the chicken upside down for the first 45 minutes and then flip. I think this really adds to a juicy bird. After the 45 minute mark I topped the chicken with the remaining marinade and roasted for another hour. As it was resting I squeezed more fresh grapefruit juice over everything.

I served the chicken and veg on a bed of baby kale. This would be great for a dinner party. For more wow factor, grill slices of grapefruit to serve on the side.

Sensational.

M

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Persian Eggplant Stew, Fattoush and Baba Ghanoush- an Ode to Aubergine

31 Oct

I don’t cook with eggplants much. When I think of eggplant, what usually comes to mind is that cold, suspiciously slimy and bland ” filling” of roasted veggie sandwiches, the type found at Starbucks or the airport terminal. Blech. Although I find its deep, glossy purple colour and shape absolutely gorgeous (in the same odd way that I find sliced avocados and fresh lemons to be beautiful) the appeal of eggplant has long eluded me. I’ve bought them with false hope a few times, only to see them wither in the fridge, neglected. However,when I saw this tasty-looking recipe for Khoresht-E Bademjan, aka Persian Eggplant Stew, at Della Cucina Provera, It gave me fresh inspiration.

Half way though the cooking process, after I dehydrated it a bit and fried it in olive oil and plenty of salt, I could not stop snacking on my few favourite food, undisguised! Eggplant.

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Deceptively difficult to take a good photo of something so pretty.

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This recipe was sooooo tasty. It was a bit of a process, I suppose, about 3 hours start to finish. It’s not a quick “whip up” recipe, but I find cooking supremely relaxing, so for me it was no biggie.

Once I started with this stew, I was inspired to take the Middle Eastern theme and run with it. With the other eggplant I ended up making baba ghanoush, and then a fattoush salad with toasted pita. I served the stew on couscous mixed with chopped dates, and doused everything with plenty of fresh lemon juice. The whole thing worked together deliciously.

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Baba Ghanoush

  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 2 table spoons tahini
  • 1 roasted eggplant (next time I’d used less chickpeas and more eggplant, probably 2)
  • 4 cloves roasted garlic
  • 1 clove fresh garlic
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil ( about two tablespoons)
  • 1 teaspoon smokey paprika
  • 1 teaspoon sumac powder (and to garnish)
  • Fresh thyme to garnish.

1) Blend in food processor.

Fattoush Salad

  •  red pepper
  •  tomato
  •  cucumber
  • 1/4 onion, thinly sliced
  • Pita bread, toasted
  • fresh parsley and mint ( I had none, but this would be ideal!)

Dressing:

  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Lemon juice
  • Olive oil
  • sprinkle sumac powder
  • sprinkle ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon raw honey

Cut pitas into strips and toast in oven with olive oil and plenty of salt at 400 for 10 minutes, or until browned and very crispy. WARNING!: Highly addictive.

Persian Eggplant Stew, Khoresht-E Bademjan 

  • 1 lb stewing beef
  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1 large can crushed tomatoes
  • 1.5 teaspoons red chili flakes
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Water
  • Fresh thyme to garnish
  1. Peel eggplant and cut into 1 inch strips. Salt on both sides and lay the strips between layers of paper towels. This draws out the bitterness. Let rest for 20 minutes or so.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large pot, brown onions with red pepper flakes, garlic and beef.
  3. Once meat is browned, add turmeric, cumin and cinnamon. Then cover with water and stew for one hour or more.
  4. While the meat is cooking, fry eggplant in olive oil until cooked and a bit crispy (This is where I began snacking!). Set aside to cool.
  5. Once meat is tender, add tomatoes. Let simmer for another hour.
  6. Lastly, add eggplant, and season with salt, pepper, honey and squeeze of lemon juice.

Serve over rice, couscous or quinoa. For a (quicker!) vegan option, substitute the beef for lentils or chickpeas. It would obviously change the dish, but would still be good. OR check out this post I did for a veggie Moroccan Stew.

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The plate of spicy stew, sweet dates, tangy salad, crunchy,salty pita chips and garlicky dip all worked together amazingly well. I can’t wait to make this meal again, for guests or family or just us.

It’s turned me into a total eggplant convert! Next on the list: eggplant bharta.

Fun Fact: “Eggplant is an excellent source of digestion-supportive dietary fiber and bone-building manganese. It is very good source of enzyme-catalyzing molybdenum and heart-healthy potassium. Eggplant is also a good source of bone-building vitamin K and magnesium as well as heart-healthy copper, vitamin C, vitamin B6, folate, and niacin” (www.whfoods.org)

On a side note, October was my best-ever month for Food, Mostly. The comments and views have been really encouraging. Thanks for all the support after a long break of inactivity! I’ve felt much more inspired lately to cook and contribute, and I look forward to growing my blog over the next few months.

Merci,

M

This post is part of the monthly link up party Our Growing Edge. This event aims to connect food bloggers and inspire us to try new things. This month is hosted by Becky from  My Utensil Crock To join, or for more info click here.

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Kensington Market, Carlo’s House of Spice, and my Curried Carrot Coconut Soup

27 Oct

Oh, Toronto.

You aren’t so pretty, all street car tracks and telephone wires, parked cars and concrete.

Noisy and sprawling with expensive taxis, glacial transit and grubby pigeons.

But you’ve got character. For all the shopping malls and chain stores, there is plenty of independent and creative spirit alive and thriving in Toronto

toronto

Perhaps nowhere more so than Kensington Market

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One of my favourite things to do is spend the afternoon poking around, grabbing coffee and eating lunch with someone lovely tucked away somewhere in this neighbourhood.

One of my favourite shops is Carlo’s House of Spice. Because I’m a huge fan of spices! Did you know?

He’s got everything, including personal blends.

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This place is my Mecca.

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I like to go and buy obscure spices I have yet to experiment with. This trip I procured sumac powder, amchur powder (mango powder), curry leaves and fenugreek.

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For vintage shopping

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People watching

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And the obscure,

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Kensington Market always puts me in a good mood.

The last last time I visited Carlo’s, I bought his custom hot madras curry powder. I’ve twice made this curried carrot coconut soup, which was so delicious, healthy and simple, my fave combo.

Great for an appetizer, lunch, or in instances requiring immediate night-vision.

20131027-215551.jpgCurried Carrot and Coconut Soup 

  • 1 big bag/bunch of organic carrots (2 lbs?)
  • 2 medium sized onions
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder (of your choice)
  • 1 can coconut milk (full fat for maximum richness)
  • Appox 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock. Water will do too, in a pinch.
  • salt n’ pepa
  1. Roughly chop carrots, and add to boiling water, peels on. Boil until soft
  2. In the meantime, thinly slice onions and fry in coconut oil until soft translucent over high heat.
  3. Add curry powder and mix. Add 1 tablespoon more oil so spices do not burn. Cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Drain carrots of water and add stock to the pot. Add onion and spice mixture and coconut milk.
  5. Blend with hand held blender until smooth.
  6. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Let simmer for about an hour

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This soup was even better he next day, as most soups are. It was hearty, spicy, satisfying, and healthy too!

I can’t wait to experiment more with my growing spice collection, and share it with y’all!

Oh, and if you’re ever in the Market, make sure to check out Carlo’s.

Fun Facts:

Carrots: protect against Cardiovascular Disease, are high in antioxidants and Vitamin A, and are extremely low in calories.

Coconut milk: although high in fat, it is “good” fat, which makes you feel fuller, longer. It is also packed with vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5, and B6 as well as iron, selenium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. It is an anti-viral, coconut milk contains a fatty acid called lauric acid, which is quite valuable to the human body. When it enters the body, lauric acid is converted to monolaurin, which is a compound that has antiviral and antibacterial properties.

Onions: the phytochemicals in onions improve the working of Vitamin C in the body, thus gifting you with improved immunity. They also contain chromium, which assists in regulating blood sugar.

What are your favourite new spices to cook with?

 

Thanksgiving Guyanese Essequibo Chicken

17 Oct

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I got this recipe from this hilarious cookbook called Don’t Stop the Cook!  that my mum brought me back from a vacation to Jamaica. It inexplicably has a rather earnest-looking (white)  pirate on the cover,  features many, many Caribbean recipes and contains zero photos.

It’s my new favourite cookbook. This recipe was amazing.

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I made this in lieu of a traditional Thanksgiving turkey because…I didn’t feel like turkey.  I was originally going to make Jerk spiced ribs, but I left it too late and all the butcher shops were closed.

Plan B!  I still wanted to use this book, so I decided to try out the Essequibo. It was amazing! The flavours were super rich and full bodied. The sauce reminded me of a French ratatouille, which might make sense considering that France at one point colonized Guyana.20131017-191623.jpg

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He liked it!

Guyanese Essequibo Chicken (serves 4)

  • 8 chicken thighs (or drumsticks would work well too)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons raw sugar
  • 1 onion (red or yellow) chopped
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • coconut or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  1. In a large pan (I had to use two medium sized ones) heat oil over medium heat. When hot, sprinkle sugar over oil and let bubble (do not burn)
  2. Add chicken to sugar/oil and fry until browned evenly. Add red or yellow onion and garlic and fry for 1 minute.
  3. Add celery salt, garlic salt and green onions, thyme, red pepper, tomato and bay leaves. Cook for 5 minutes or so,
  4. Add tomato paste and water. Simmer on low heat for one hour, skimming the fat off the top of the sauce with a teaspoon.
  5. Combine cornstarch with about two tablespoons of water and quickly stir into sauce mixture to thicken.
  6. Mix well and season with pepper and more fresh thyme.

Serve on top of rice and beans with salad!

Fun (?) fact: “Essequibo (Dutch: Essequebo) was a Dutch colony on the Essequibo River in the Guiana region on the north coast of South America from 1616 to 1814. The colony formed a part of the colonies that are known under the collective name of Dutch Guiana”

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