Good things to eat

Archive for the ‘Side dishes’ Category

Can any ol body make Kimchi?

I’ll admit, the thought of it was very intimidating.

I was picturing something very exotic, or spending all day in the kitchen over large vats of something or other.  Requiring group of friends working feverishly to complete it in one day.

Or the need for hard to find equipment or ingredients.

Trouble was, I guess I didn’t really even know what Kimchi was.

What it comes down to is pretty much Korean style sauerkraut.

Something people have been making for years with little more than a bucket or crock, some salt and a big rock!

So why was I getting myself in a tizzy over it?  Why not just give it a try? Cabbage is pretty cheap, if it doesn’t work out…..oh well.

I’m almost embarrassed at just how easy it really is!

Then again, fermenting of food has been around a LONG time.  That’s how many cultures have survived by being able to preserve the bounty of the Summer for the long Winter ahead.

And then don’t even get me started with just how very good for you it is!  Talk about probiotic!!  This stuff is where it’s at!!

So not even knowing where to start, I did what any smart person would do, I looked up some recipes on the internet!   Admittedly, there were several and true, some did sound a little exotic and involved but I managed to find one that made sense.

Many of the recipes also called for “fish sauce” or “shrimp paste”, two things I actively avoid due to my shell-fish allergy but found no trouble working around that.

There were many many recipes, but I finally decided on this one:  Homemade Vegan Kimchi

I did not have, nor had the time to look for, the Kochukaru ( Korean chili powder) so I improvised on that.

I also didn’t make as huge of a batch as this recipe appears to make, in case it was disgusting and then I would have went to all the trouble and then would have to toss it!!

Here is what I used:

  • 1/2 large napa cabbage
  • 1/2 (maybe less) daikon radish
  • 1/2 red onion
  • Salt  ( Kosher or sea)

For paste:

  • 4 green onions
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 inch fresh ginger
  • 2 birdseye Thai chilis ( small red ones)
  • 1 tbsp smokie paprika
  • 1 tbsp miso paste
  • 1 tbsp sugar

I peeled the leaves off the cabbage one at a time until I had taken off about half of them.  Use your judgement depending on how big your cabbage is.   After washing them, chop them into about 2 inch chunks,

I used only 1/2 of the daikon because it was quite large.   Peel it and then cut it into strips.  Smaller than French fries but bigger than match sticks.

Slice the red onion into full circle rounds about 1/4 inch thick.

Place all of these ingredients in a large bowl and then sprinkle generously with salt and toss to make sure everything is getting some salt on it.

 

Holiday treats002

Then let it sit for a few hours until it gets quite whilty and releases some liquid.

 

When the cabbage mixture is ready to go, it is time to make the paste.

Holiday treats003

Add all of the other ingredients ( except the green part of the green onions, just chop and mix those in   with the cabbage, but do it now, not during the wilting part) to the food processor and combine till it makes a nice paste.  ( Add a bit of the cabbage water if it is too thick)

Holiday treats004

 

Then add the paste to the wilted cabbage and toss well until everything is nicely coated.

Holiday treats005

 

Holiday treats006

Then carefully shove it all into a super clean Mason jar ( or more).  The other recipe suggests poking it down with a chop stick.  Really pack it in there, making sure there aren’t any air pockets.  And then pour in any remaining liquid from the bowl that will fit.

Seal it up tight and let it sit on the counter for 24 hours, then into the fridge for at least a week before testing it!

 

ONE WEEK LATER:

Time to check out the magic!!

A huge word of caution here that no one seems to mention in any of the recipes I saw…….

Kimchi is ALIVE!!  Fermenting is done by live ( but very friendly) bacteria and so after they have done their work on your cabbage, they are eager to show you!!

So when you open your new Kimchi for the first time, DO IT OVER THE SINK!  It is almost like a bottle of soda that has been shook! And it WILL spew everywhere!!

I had NO idea!!

Once that nonsense was over and I safely got the lid off…….I gave it a sniff.  It had a strong odor and it wasn’t particularly appealing, but the time of truth had come.  Time to taste it.

 

I was fully ready to dislike it, but instead I was surprised, amazed and delighted by the taste of something that I quite honestly can’t say as I have tasted before!   I was expecting something tangy, vinegary or pickley.   But it was none of these.

Instead, it was the most delightful mixture of salty, sour and a little bit spicy.

I was absolutely delighted with my experiment!

Since then, I have become obsessed with my Kimchi!!  As the lady in the commercial says “I put that @#%$@* on EVERYTHING!”

It is particularly wonderful for livening up any old boring sandwich!!  Fabulous as a burger topping, adds zing to any rice bowl type dish.  Add it to salads or as a condiment with eggs or omelets.  I could go on and on and keep trying it with everything!

Just DON’T heat it!  It is a live food, heating it will destroy all of its goodness!!

So don’t be afraid, give it a try yourself.

I would be very interested to hear just you make out!

 

Holiday treats007

 

 

 

 

 

Why read food blogs anyway?

Let’s face it, there are thousands of blogs out there now, pretty much about anything anyone can come up with.

blogging-cat

I am always seeing ads or getting emails about ways to “get more traffic to your blog” and some of them have some good ideas but at the end of the day, I just like writing them and sharing stuff I like or have tried or an idea I got some where.  So when other people actually read what I have to say, I am very honoured that they have taken the time out of their day to do so.

And what’s better, is if I can give them some little bit of information that they can enjoy, or that sparks an idea for them to use in their lives, then my work is done.

That’s why I have so many blogs that I have signed up for and read on a regular basis.  Because the best part is, it gives you ideas to do your own thing.

I will see recipes and either think about how I might do it differently, or I might actually intend to follow the recipe verbatim, only to find that I am missing one or more ingredient and then have to improvise and then it can inadvertently become a whole new dish.

But especially with daily cooking and eating, which most of us have to spend a lot of time doing, it is hard to come up with new things.  Or worse, even remember stuff that you like to make!

Sometimes I will look back over the archives of my blog and honestly be surprised by dishes I have made but forgot about and so am happy to make again.

blog_or_not_to_blog-300x210

**************************************************************************************************************

So the other day I was reading a few blogs and got a hankering for something I wanted to make.

First,I got this idea from my blog friend at EMILY BITES.   I didn’t have all the ingredients that she called for so I had to wing it from what I did have.  But that’s part of the fun, putting your own twist on new ideas.

Click HERE for the original recipe.  She called it “Slow Cooker Thai Peanut Chicken”

I still have the same “slow cooker” that I grew up with that my mother gave me one day years ago because they didn’t use it anymore.   Still works just fine and will probably work for years to come, cause it only gets used a few times a year, so why shouldn’t it.

Chicken & patties004

So into the slow cooker went:

  • 1 diced onion
  • 3 cloves chopped fresh garlic
  • 1 inch chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 tbsp agave syrup, maple syrup or brown sugar ( whatever sweetener works for you)
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp soy or Bragg sauce
  • 2 heaping tbsps of peanut butter ( I use natural, the other ones will make the dish sweeter and saltier)
  • 1/2 cup orange juice ( vegetable stock would work too)

Stir all that up at the bottom of the cooker till it is nice and saucy.

Then add boneless, skinless chicken breasts.  I used four, so if making more than that, just up all of the other ingredients. Basically the rule of thumb is to have enough sauce to cover the chicken, however much it is.

Turn the cooker on high and leave it for a few hours!   Nice!

After a few hours of cooking, poke one of the chicken breasts with a fork, if it falls apart easily, it’s ready!

So then get in there with two forks and pull them all apart till everything is shredded and then stir back into the sauce.  It is actually easier to pull out each breast onto a cutting board and shred it up and then add it back in,, but I was too lazy so I just fought with it still in the cooker!

Chicken & patties003

******************************************************************************************************************

But then, what to serve it with?

Well, I saw another blog with an idea for some kind of pancake or patty type thing that I thought might work.   When I went back to see where I had found the idea, I couldn’t find it again, a hazard of reading too many blogs.

So as usual I just “winged it” with what I had.  The one I read had grated zucchini and corn, both things I didn’t happen to have, but no fear, I found other stuff.

In a large mixing bowl, mix:

  • 1 grated carrot or small zucchini
  • half a large red or yellow bell pepper in small cubes
  • 1 cup chopped cooked potato ( left over mash would do too)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp smokie paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg

Mix all that together then add:

  • 1 cup milk ( of your choice)
  • 1 cup flour ( also of your choice)

Stir in to the vegetables to make a nice gloopy batter.  You might have to add a little more or less of the milk and flour till you get the right consistency.  It shouldn’t be too runny.

Chicken & patties002

Then when you are ready, heat a skillet to fairly hot, and add a little oil of your choice then ladle out about a 1/2 cup worth of batter into the pan, until you can get as many as fits.  Cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side.   Repeat.

Chicken & patties001

Chicken & patties006

Keep the cooked cakes warm in the oven until you are ready to eat them.

*****************************************************************************************************************

Lay a cake or two on the plate and then top with your pulled spicy chicken. There you have a delicious super easy meal!!

And if the truth be known, I had it again for lunch the next day and it tasted even BETTER after having sat together awhile!  Yum-eee.

Chicken & patties008

*****************************************************************************************************************

Vegan note:

You could easily substitute the chicken for tofu in that recipe.  Only I would cook only the sauce for a while till it was all cooked down and THEN add cubes of tofu only about a half hour before eating so it doesn’t get all mushed.

And then for the patties, just omit the egg and use a non dairy milk and you are still in business!

The fuss about artichokes

After our recent visit to Earthbound Farms and seeing all the beautiful artichokes they had growing there, I thought that THIS might be the year I actually try and cook or “deal” with one.

As beautiful as they looked still on the plant, which is actually the flower of a thistle and as wonderful and appetizing as they look piled fresh at a market stand, I’ve just never been able to bring myself to buy one because I simply had no idea what to do with it!   They seem very intimidating!

*********************************************************************************************************

california 2013 part i051

But they are finally in season around these parts and I saw a cute little four pack at the market and thought why not!

They sat in the fridge for almost a week, every day I would look at them and decide that I would tackle them tomorrow.

But finally, enough was enough, I didn’t want them to end up like a lot of fruit and strange produce that make it into our fridge and then end up in the compost.

I watched a whole BUNCH of people on youtube painstakingly showing me their techniques on how to prepare them.  One more complicated than the next.  Some steamed, some baked, some stuffed.some steamed then stuffed then baked……but what finally got me was the video of a five year old boy teaching us how to eat one.    ( click here to check it out )

He seemed to really enjoy it so how hard can it be??

I opted for the plain and simple, steam and eat with melted butter method.

*********************************************************************************************************

Here is what you will need for your little project, according to most of the “Steam” version videos.

  • artichokes
  • large non reactive ( no cast iron or aluminum) pot with a steam rack in the bottom ( I didn’t have one)
  • sharp knife – must be stainless steel
  • kitchen scissors
  • a lemon cut in half

*********************************************************************************************************

Start by giving the artichokes a nice wash and pulling off any obvious bad bits or the big gnarly leaves that may be on the bottom.

Then, in what ever order you choose, but work quickly because like avocado, artichoke starts to oxidize and turn grey once it has been cut….

  • So you will need to trim off the end of the stem
  • cut off 1/2 to 1 inch of the top depending on size, with knife
  • with scissors, cut off the pointy bit on each individual leaf

All the while, rubbing the thing down with your bits of cut lemon to avoid them getting discoloured.

Then place them in a bowl of cold lemon water while you finish the rest of them, or into a pot for cooking, depending on how many and how fast you are.

Articoke005

*********************************************************************************************************

Then boil the water and steam them.   Please check some of the other web sites and videos to get your own sense for how long.   I steamed mine for 35 minutes and to me they seemed over steamed, while some sites said at least 45 minutes.  So I guess use your cooking sense and poke them often to see if they are done.   Being the first time I’d done it, I wasn’t all together sure what I was looking for.

Articoke009

*********************************************************************************************************

Once steamed, take them out of the pot and let them cool long enough that they are comfortable to touch.

Then when that happens, take each one and pry open the leaves  ( although in my case they were over cooked so that was very easy) and then get a spoon into the centre and scrap out the “choke”.  You will recognize it easily because it is this hairy looking bottom of a flower type thing and would SURELY choke you if you ate it!

Articoke011

*********************************************************************************************************

Then you are ready to go.

Serve with a little bowl of melted butter.

Articoke012

I guess start from the outside, although I was pretty random with it, and pull off each leaf one by one, dip it in the melted butter and then draw the end of the leaf through your teeth, scraping it along your teeth ( top or bottom) while sucking the pulp off the leaf.

Articoke013

That’s it.  The whole deal.

Watch the kid in the video if you don’t understand what I’m getting at!

*********************************************************************************************************

So this goes on till you have sucked on every last leaf and you are left with a heaping pile of “used” leaves.

Articoke015

That’s when you get down to the artichoke “heart”.  This is the good part that we usually buy pickled in cans or jars and put in our artichoke dips and other dishes.

Apparently at this point, you cut it up and just eat that with butter too.  But to be honest, by then I was over it.

It also looked a bit gray to me, which the Chef tells me is because I didn’t put enough lemon in my cooking water……….

But you can chop it up and eat it, or put it in a salad or dip.

Articoke017

*********************************************************************************************************

I know that thousands of people can’t be wrong when they say that this is a delicacy.  But I will be honest with you when I say that I simply don’t “get it”.

WAY too labour intensive for so little yield of something that was………interesting……maybe even good………but certainly NOT over the moon, OMG, must have THAT all the time…..kind of thing.

*********************************************************************************************************

Maybe next time………I try the stuffed with gorgonzola and breadcrumbs version?

Getting my “Freekeh” on!

I’m kind of embarrassed  that a girl like me has never used the “ancient grain”  freekeh before.

I think I must have seen it on one of the cooking shows  and made a mental note to try it, but simply never got around to it.  So when I saw it on sale at my local store that mental note kicked in again and I picked up a box.

Freekeh

*********************************************************************************************************

I looked it up on line to see what exactly I could do with it and found that the options are endless.   Because essentially freekeh could be used in any way that you might use rice. The big difference is that unfortunately it is NOT gluten free for those of you who can’t tolerate it.  Oh well.

But for those of you who don’t have a problem with gluten, I suggest that you might like to try it.

I started with my  heavy bottomed pot with a lid and heated a little oil and then added:

  • one diced onion

and cooked till translucent, then added the well rinsed ( read the instructions on the package) freekeh into the pot and stirred it well to coat in oil and onion flavour!

Let cook for a couple of minutes and then add your water or stock, bring to a boil, turn down, cover with lid and simmer till done.  Just like you would with rice.

*********************************************************************************************************

Freekeh

*********************************************************************************************************

Just before serving, I stirred in a few toasted pine nuts and chopped almonds just to give it that Middle Eastern vibe but didn’t add too much else because I wanted to get a good sense of what it tasted like.

Freekeh

We really enjoyed it, found it much nuttier and chewier than rice and then it has this smokey flavour to it that really sets it apart from all the other grain products that can be used like this.  It was also quite filling and substantial feeling in your belly so you wouldn’t have to eat as much to feel satisfied.

I liked it a lot and now just need to source out a place that sells it in bulk because the package it came in was quite small and fairly pricy for what it was.

Please let me know if you have ever used Freekeh and what your experience has been with it.  I’d love to know.

nutrition

Different Salads

I suppose a staple of the Vegan diet is salads.

All shapes, sizes and colours.

To be honest, you can pretty much chop up anything, put on a little dressing and call it a “salad” these days!  And why not?

One of my favorite meals, Vegan or not, is what I call my “Mediterranean plates” where I just make a bunch of flavorful piles of stuff that go nicely together.

**********************************************************************************

Here’s tonight’s group:

First I got started with a nice batch of roasted yams and roasted cauliflower.

Get them started.

Vegan II013

****************************************************************************************

Then I went to a white bean and kale with lemon salad:

In a glass or ceramic bowl add:

  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • juice of 1 lemon ( but zest it first and put aside)
  • 1/2 salt
  • 1 large handful of chopped green kale ( hard stems out)

Mix the kale down into the lemon juice and cover well and let sit in the acid until it gets a little wilted.

Then drain and rinse a can of white kidney beans and add to the bowl.

Then add:

  • 1 tbsp dried or fresh chopped sage
  • a splash of olive oil
  • a pinch more salt and some fresh cracked pepper.

Mix thoroughly, top with the lemon zest and set aside to rest while you perform your other duties.

Vegan II016

*****************************************************************************************

Next we have a nice Cous Cous salad.

Again, in a glass or ceramic bowl ( but preferably with a seal-able lid) start with your dressing on the bottom.   I just used more lemon juice, a little olive oil and some fresh herbs.

Then to the bowl I added some left over grilled vegetables, peppers, asparagus, Portobello mushrooms, zucchini.   If you don’t have any grilled veg and don’t feel like making any, raw ones would work just fine too but try and keep them of the more delicate nature, not hard things like raw carrots.

Toss these in the dressing.

Meanwhile and this is just something I do for added flavour, but by no means essential……

I like to dry toast the couscous in the bottom of a heavy pot or fry pan till they get just a little bit brownish.

Then toss the DRY couscous in with the vegs and dressing and toss them in well.

Vegan II018

Then pour boiling water over the whole thing ( amount according to couscous directions) and then seal the bowl with a lid or place a plate on top and let stand for about 10 minutes.

Vegan II020

*************************************************************************************************

Then I whipped up a nice little Tahini sauce to pour over things:

  • 1 clove chopped garlic
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1 tsp dried mint
  • salt & pepper
  • water as needed

Stir this all up in a bowl adding water as needed to get to the consistency you are looking for.  Tahini tends to cease up when you mix it with other things, so you may have to keep adding water for a bit.

************************************************************************************************

So now with our yams and cauliflower roasted.

Vegan II022

Our couscous absorbed and fluffed.

Vegan II021

Our beans and kale marinated.

Vegan II014

We are ready to put it all together!

Maybe drop a few spinach leaves or mixed greens on the bottom to “green ” it up a little and then pile on the good stuff!   And drizzle with a bit of tahini sauce!

Yummy Vegan Salad night!!

Or anytime really!   In fact this combo cold the next day made a great work lunch!

Vegan II024

*****************************************************************************************

Oh and …….note use of home-made bun now as toasted garlic bread!!!

************************************************************************************************

Kinda lasagna sorta

The worst part about moving of course, is trying to find anything!

All the best and most organized packing in the world can still result in a lot of things being “misplaced”.  That is what is so disruptive about moving and makes you feel so unsafe.

I’ve probably mentioned this before, but they say moving is up there with the top 10 most stressful happenings in life……up there with divorce or deaths!!

And when you are packing, you tend to do crazy things that must seem a good idea at the time and perhaps even logical.  But on the unpacking end you often find your self asking “WHAT was I thinking there??”

So this past weekend was the first time the Chef and I have both had the whole weekend off together and been able really get a handle on the new place.  Most of the stuff has been unpacked for a bit, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is in the right place.

I kid you not, we spent almost four hours arranging and rearranging the living room.        We purchased some new furniture that will be arriving in “two to four weeks” so it is even harder when you don’t even really know what things will look like.

We had already had a number of configurations that we had tried for a week or a few days at a time, but nothing felt right.   But I think we finally found one we can work with……until the furniture comes and then we have to start all over of course!

But we did manage to finally arrange the pantry.

It’s been hard to cook or eat because we didn’t know where anything was….or if you thought of a dish you might only have half the ingredients, but then only to discover in a different cupboard the other stuff you would need.  It’s been chaos!

So after a long day of “arranging” neither of us felt like going out to a store, nor did we really feel like cooking but…….you gotta eat right?

So this is what I came up with.

Baked cabbage with cheese and veg

*********************************************************************************************

I present this as only a guideline of what you can do with a bunch of random stuff.  Please feel free to substitute or omit  as needed.

First I cooked up a pot of green lentils.  At first I thought I would make some sort of lentil dish fried up with onions and veg on rice etc.

But then I found a cabbage in the fridge.  When I say “found” you know what I mean, a recently purchased one, not one that came with the fridge!

And so I thought I’d really like to use that too.

There were also some nice Portobello mushrooms and some red peppers.

Hmmm….what next?

Okay.

So in a large skillet with a little oil add:

  • 1 -2 chopped onion
  • 1-2 cups sliced mushroom
  • 1 red, green, yellow or combo sliced pepper

Cook those down until nice and soft, feel free to add any herb or spice flavours that inspire you.

When these are cooked, toss them into a flat baking or lasagna style dish and spread them around.

Then add in the cooked lentils and mix them in well.

Meanwhile, in the same skillet, add a little more oil then add finely sliced cabbage.  Sliced very thin like you are making coleslaw but don’t stuff the pan too much.

I used a whole small cabbage.  But cook it in batches so that it cooks down nicely and it is okay if it gets brown bits on it.  Adds flavour!!

As you finish each batch of cabbage, add it to the baking dish and continue to mix it in with the other vegetables.

Once you have done about half the cabbage, sprinkle with a layer of good melting cheese like mozzarella or other cheese you might use in a lasagna or pizza.

Once all the cabbage is added then add a tin of tomato  or prepared spaghetti sauce and thoroughly mix through everything.  I only had half of a tin on hand, but it really needed a whole one!

Once it is well mixed, layer with another layer of the melting cheese and then a bit of what ever other cheese you might have just as an accent.  I used some orange cheddar and some blue cheese.

Then bung it in the oven at 350 for about half hour ( it’s mostly all cooked just need to heat and melt cheese) and then pop it under the broiler for a few minutes till the cheese on top starts to brown a little.

There you have it!

Kinda lasagna sorta

Now I will admit, if I had to do it again, there would be a few things I would do differently.  Like make sure I had enough sauce.   And I would probably put some extra fried onions on top.  Or even better, those old school crispy onions that Grandmothers seem to like to put on green bean casseroles at the holidays!!

It would make a fine Vegetarian supper with a salad and some nice bread.  Or actually it would do fine as a side dish.

The point is, you can usually make something out of nothing when you have to!  Be creative!

We did end up getting to have some Thanksgiving Turkey dinner after all and it went very well, just missing a couple things…..like the gravy ladle.

It will show up….with the damn blue lampshade I can’t seem to find.

Savory Bread Pudding

Here’s another little gem you might want to enjoy over the holidays……..

I call it a “savory bread pudding” but I’m sure you could come up with other names for it.

Savory Bread Pudding

This could be used as a nice alternative to stuffing (dressing) if you are still looking for a bready side dish without all the turkey bother.  It does have dairy and eggs, but no turkey juice, so the vegetarians can eat this.

Here is what you will need:

  • aprox 3 cups of cubed bread of some kind
  • 1 onion or shallot finely diced
  • 1 cup of mushrooms of your choice, sliced
  • 1 -2 cups of chopped baby spinach ( depending on how much you chop it)
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tsp dried thyme ( or poultry spice if you have that)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup of 1/2 & 1/2 cream ( or whipping cream if you are inclined)
  • few dashes of hot sauce
  • some cheese ( I used some good white cheddar and a little bit of blue and parmesan cause I had it)

Heat the oven to 375 degrees and grease a pan with butter or olive oil.

Then in a frying pan with a bit of butter or olive oil, saute the onion and mushrooms, then add the thyme or PS and the S&P.

Meanwhile, cube your bread into 1/4 or 1/2 inch cubes and add them to your greased pan.  Then add in your cooked onions and mushrooms and toss them all together.

*************************************************************************************************************

Then lay on a layer of spinach and a good handful or two of the cheddar cheese and then stir those into all the other stuff till everything is thoroughly mixed.

***********************************************************************************************************8

Then is a separate bowl, beat the eggs with the cream and the hot sauce.

Then pour the eggs and cream all over the bread then kind of swirl it around to make sure everyone is getting a little of the creamy love!

Even squeeze the bread down into the cream a bit to make sure it is all getting a bit soaked.

Then finish with a few sprinkles of the other cheeses like some blue cheese and parmesan.

Pop into the hot oven for at least 1/2 hour and then have a look at it.  Giggle it a bit, if it is still too wabbly, put it back in for a few minutes.

Then you might want to put it under the broiler for a few minutes just to brown off the top.

*************************************************************************************************************

*************************************************************************************************************

To be honest, I probably could have just eaten a big bowl of the stuff by itself.   But instead I used it as a side dish with a spicy sausage stuffed Portobello mushroom.

************************************************************************************************************

But I definitely feel it is worthy of a holiday side dish!

Potato Cakes

Some people call them potato LATKES while others call them potato pancakes.  Although in my opinion the pancake is just that…..a more of a pan cake item.

But whatever you want to call them, one thing would have to be yummy!

Click here to look at wonderful pictures of potato products!

Whether you are making them for a traditional meal like a Hanukkah feast, a fancy brunch or like I did as just a tasty side dish, it is pretty much all the same technique give or take, unless your Bubby tells you different!!

Here is what you will need:

  • 1 poundish peeled potato ( I used half yam for extra nutrients!)
  • 1/2 a medium onion
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup or more flour
  • a sprinkle  ( 1/2 tsp) of salt & pepper

After you have peeled the potatoes you will need to grate them.   If you are doing it by hand, you will need to keep the grated potato in a dish of cold water so they don’t discolour on you.

But if you are a slacker like me and grate them in the food processor which only takes seconds…..they don’t even seem to have time to go brown!!

So grate you potatoes as you will and then grate the onion, but DON’T put the onions in the water!!

Once you have both items nicely grated and ready to go, put them together in a CLEAN tea towel and squeeze the dickens out of them over the sink!  This is an important step if you want nice crispy cakes!

After you have squeezed them……try and squeeze them a bit more…..or get someone with bigger hands to have a go!

Then dump that out of the towel into a mixing bowl ( make sure you dump out the  soaking water!).

Working quickly…….add the flour, egg and seasonings.

Mix it all up very well, with your hands is best, making sure that all of the potato is covered with flour and egg.

Meanwhile, heat up some nice oil in a shallow ( non stick is most effective) fry pan.   Just enough to cover the bottom of the pan, no need to have them swimming!

Once the oil is hot, add in spoonfuls of your potato mixture and squeeze them down so that as much surface as possible is touching the pan.

The size is your choice depending on what you are going to do with them.   You can have small ones like I am doing this time, or one big honkin one that takes up the whole pan.

Whatever you like.

Cook till you see they are starting to crisp on the bottom then CAREFULLY turn them over.

Once done, place on a baking sheet lined in parchment or even a bit of paper towel and keep them in a very low oven just to stay warm till you are ready to eat.

The traditional accoutrements are apple sauce or sour cream.

But as you can see, I’ve just used them as my “potato side dish” with dinner.

Have fun.

Potato Cakes

Warning:  These ARE addictive.

Radish Salads

I’ve always been fascinated by radishes.

My father liked radishes.  When I was a kid I would help my mother by making my father’s lunch for work.  I pack up the regular sandwiches and cookie and whatever, but sometimes we would have radishes and so I’d give him some.

I’d cut off either end and then put them in a little Tupperwear of cold water and seal it up.  Then the next day he would eat them along with his sandwich.  Or so I would picture.

Sometimes I would even try making the little slits around them before soaking them in the water, in hopes that would magically turn into those radish roses.  Never really worked so good.

I just loved looking at them.  Such bright red with green stocks and then when you cut into them the fresh white flesh inside.  So crisp and refreshing looking.

But then I’d take a bite and gag on their spicy dirt flavour.   Sad.  Very sad.

I’ve tried them again many times over the years and can get away with them in a regular green salad that is doused in dressing.

In recent years I have tried Daikon radish.    (Click here to check them out )  I find them somewhat milder and therefore a little more agreeable.  They are however VERY good for you.  It fortifies the liver, helps clear the gallbladder of stones and detoxifies the digestive tract.  So basiclly……real good.

I really WANT to love them.  I do.

So I was pretty excited when I saw a recipe for “Radish Salsa”.   Sounded great, cause I love salsa in general and so this seemed a good idea.

Let’s see what you think.

Here’s what I used:

  • 12 radishes
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 English cucumber
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • few dashes of hot sauce
  • salt & pepper

Chop the radishes and cucumber into a fine dice, try to keep every piece the same size and try to keep some of the red from the radish and green from the cucumber on each piece to keep it looking nice.

Then mix with all the other ingredients and chill for at least 1/2 hour before using.

I didn’t try it as a traditional salsa on a tortilla chip but it DID make a very refreshing topping on a fish taco and then the next day I added the rest of it to a green salad.   Both worked nicely and were very acceptable ways of enjoying radish!

Radish Salsa

Let me know if you can think of other places you might use it.

***************************************************************************************************

I saw another great little use of radish in a salad on the Whole Foods website.   I tried it on the weekend and it was really nice and fresh.

It was:

  • one bunch of radish
  • 2 -3 bulbs of fennel
  • juice and zest of one lemon
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper

Really simple, trim and wash radishes and slice them really thin.  I actually just tossed them in the food processor with the slicer attachement.

Same with the fennel.  Wash it and cut off the “fingers”.  Cut in half and remove the knarley core and then either slice the bulb into really thin slices or whack it too into the food processor with the slicer blade or on a mandolin.  Whatever your slicer of choice.

Then I cut the frauns off of the fennel and sliced up the green finger bits too.  The original recipe doesn’t call for that, but they were fine if cut really thin.

Toss the fennel and the radishes together then add the zest, lemon juice, oil and S&P just before serving.

Toss it all again and then garnish with chopped fennel fraun for colour.

Really nice and fresh accompaniment to any summer meal.

Salad Week – Deconstructed Greek Salad

I thought what with Summer now upon us……well some places are getting Summer anyway….that it would be a good time to roll out “Salad Week”.

I love salads and the combinations are endless, so let’s see what we can come up with.

Today we have “Deconstructed Greek Salad”.

Now don’t be intimidated.   This might sound all “Chefy” but it couldn’t be simpler!

Impress your friends with this simple tasty salad.

Gather all the ingredients typically found in a Greek salad and cut them into even sized bits.

Here we have:

  • Green pepper
  • Yellow pepper
  • Red onion
  • tomato
  • cucumber
  • Kalamata olives

So chop them up evenly and put them in little piles in a flat casserole dish like small 9 x 9 glass lasagna dish.

Then make up the dressing:  Thee parts oil, one part vinegar

  • red wine vinegar
  • olive oil
  • honey
  • chopped fresh herbs – parsley, oregano etc

Stir up and then pour all over the vegetables and let them marinade for at least 1/2 hour before serving.

When you are ready to serve, arrange even piles of the individual vegetables around the plate.

Here we have a dollop of goat cheese, but crumbled feta would do nicely too.

Season with salt & pepper and sprinkle with additional chopped herbs if you have them!

Voila!  So simple and so good!!

Deconstructed Greek Salad

Please feel free to share YOUR  favorite salads with me.  Post a link to your blog if you’d like my friends to check it out too.

Happy Salad Week!

Stuffed Peppers three ways

The Chef is a fan of three ways.

You know, when it comes to preparing dishes.    He really likes taking one ingredient and preparing three different versions of the same item.

The other night he made three different coloured peppers stuffed with three different stuffings!

Let’s break down the fillings.

Filling # one:

  • corn
  • black beans
  • cooked rice

Filling # two:

  • cooked green lentils
  • green olives
  • chopped cilantro
  • chopped parsley
  • 1 clove minced garlic

Filling # three:

  • cooked red lentils
  • crushed tomato ( or tomato sauce)
  • sun dried tomatoes

Feel free to add anything extra that you might like, but these are the basic ingredients.

So make up all these different fillings separately.

I know all that  seems like a lot of work, but just keep the left overs because they make great “salad” accompaniments for your lunch for the rest of the week!!

Cut the peppers in half removing the insides.  Sprinkle with a little olive oil and bake at 350 for about 12 minutes till they are a bit wilted.

Then stuff each pepper with one of the fillings, try to make the colour contrasts interesting.  Or not.

These particular versions are all Vegan, but if you wanted to add some cheese on top to melt in, that would be very tasty too.

Bake for about 15 minutes or until they are heated through.

Stuffed peppers three ways

Enjoy with side salad or other veg.

Sweet Potato Pancakes

Those of you who visit regularly or have been following along, know that I am a big fan of the savory pancake!

I just think that it makes such a more interesting side dish than plain ol rice or potato.  And I find them so particularly good when accompanied by a “saucy” dish because they suck up the juice and are so comforting.

The first ones were the KALE pancakes.   A particular favorite because I like to hide greens!

Then there were the Roasted Tomato pancakes, where was pretty much the kale pancakes with the addition of sweet roasted grape tomatoes.  Also a hit around here.

And then of course there was the Spinach Crepes stuffed with Mascarpone cheese which were just simply decadent.

This time I’ve made sweet potato pancakes.

Now I don’t want to argue with anyone, because there is much debate about which is which and this argument is perpetuated by restaurants who call “yam fries”  sweet potato fries!!

Just so we are straight:

  • YAM – big gnarly tuber with brown skin and dark orange flesh
  • Sweet Potato – looks very much like a yam only it has light ( almost yellow) skin and flesh

So I peeled, diced and boiled one large sweet potato.  Then drained it and mashed it like you would regular potatoes.  Only don’t add any of the butter and milk and what have you.

Although, if on the off chance, you ARE the kind of person who has left over mashed sweet potato in the fringe WITH all the butter and milk then those are perfectly fine to use.  I just didn’t want you to go to all the trouble.

In a blender add:

  • 2 cloves of garlic and or 2 green onions ( rough chopped)
  • mashed sweet potato once they have cooled.

Blend those together then add:

  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour (or whole wheat, spelt etc whatever you are into)
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg (optional if eggs aren’t your thing)  just add 3 tsp of baking powder instead
  • 1 1/2 c. milk  ( I use almond but any milk will do)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Also feel free to add a little bit of  say ground cumin or chili flakes to zing it up a bit.

Then in a non-stick skillet or whatever your favorite pancake pan is, pour in dollops of batter, wait for the bubbles to appear then turn them over!

Keep the cooked ones warm in the oven until you are ready to serve.

We had them for our Sunday dinner with some roast and veg.

Yum-ee.

Anniversary Dinner

Now don’t get me wrong, I like going out to restaurants as much as the next person, but when you have a live in Chef sometimes it just doesn’t make any sense to go out!!

The Chef and I were celebrating our anniversary this weekend so he was nice enough to “whip me up” a little something for my dinner!!

We started with an appetizer of beet and goat cheese pin wheel terrine with basil infused oil.

Beet and goat cheese pin wheels

Colourful and light.

Then a lovely salad of arugula  with a beautiful refreshing oil and lemon dressing and shaves of Parmesan cheese.

Arugula salad with lemon, oil and shaved Parmesan cheese

For the main course we had beef and asparagus rouladen topped with gorgonzola cheese, accompanied by pured roasted celeriac topped with Boursin cheese and roasted root vegetables with topped with Blue cheese.

Beef and asparagus rouladen with roasted celeriac, root vegetables and three cheeses

Scurmp-delly-ishes!!!

Needless to say, with all the flavours and textures going on there, it only seemed appropriate to have a nice simple dessert.

Strawberries macerated in sugar and balsamic vinegar with Greek yogurt, with a sprig of mint and a shard of dark chocolate!

macerated strawberries with Greek yogurt and mint

Good time had by all!

Slitty potatoes

Have been seeing these everywhere lately and thought it was time to try them.

I have reason to believe they are really called “Hasselback” potatoes and are originally Swedish in nature.  Although I have seen Laura Calder on the Food Network’s  “French Food at Home make them on her show too so I imagine a few cultures lay claim to them.

So start with some nice potatoes.

Mine weren’t too big, about goose egg size.  That way they cook quicker.

Oh and turn on the oven to 450 degrees.

Wash and dry the potatoes, then very carefully start at one end and make a bunch of evenly spaced slits along the whole length of the potato.

Be careful not to cut all the way through.  You want to stop just short of going through the skin on the bottom.

Meanwhile, and this is up for interpretation, but what I used in this particular incidence was……..

In a small bowl mix a few spoonfuls of soft butter, a couple of shots of olive oil and some very finely chopped fresh rosemary sprigs.   Stir that up well.  You could also just use olive oil if butter isn’t your thing.

Then take each potato and slog on this mixture, being sure to get some down into each slit.

Repeat until they are all covered.  Then give them all a good sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Then bung them in the oven for up to 45 minutes depending on the size of your potatoes.

But obviously keep an eye on them and give them a poke near the end to know if they are done.

Feel free to add a little more butter or what ever you please once they are done!  I’ve added a little blue cheese to mine.

*****************************************************************************************

Serve with your favorite meal.

Left overs salad

I think sometimes people get hung up on what food is supposed to “look like”.

As in they think that there are some kind of rules about what something is, just because you call it something.

Example, salad.

When you say “salad” what immediately comes to mind?  Some kind of lettuce, few chopped carrots or cucumbers, maybe some sliced radish for colour……..

Or maybe you go to chunky potato salad with the obligatory cup of mayonnaise?

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with any of those, but sometimes it is okay to get out of the box.

Came home and needed something to eat.  What to do?

Well, I had some slightly old baguette so I chopped that up into bite size squares and tossed it with some chopped garlic, chopped rosemary and some olive oil.   Then on to a tray and into the oven to crisp up.

What next?

I had a romaine lettuce so I washed it and chopped it up and dried it well.

In the bottom of the bowl that I tossed the croutons in, there was some of the oil, garlic and rosemary left, so I used the same bowl and made a little dressing.

Mostly, it was a Caesar dressing only minus the raw egg and anchovy:

  • 1 tsp chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp Keen’s hot mustard ( or Dijon)
  • a few shots of Worcestershire sauce
  • juice of half a lemon
  • a couple of twirls of olive oil
  • salt & pepper

whisk that up at the bottom of the bowl.

Then add the Romain lettuce and toss with the dressing.   Then add a few handfuls of freshly grated parmesan cheese.

But is that it?  No no no……let’s see what we have in the fridge??

Well, how about some left over roasted cauliflower?  Why not?

I just tossed it into a saute pan for a couple of minutes to take the extreme cold off of it and mellow the flavour a bit.

What else do we have?  Oh, here is some left over South West salad, let’s toss that in too!

All right then, I think we are in business!

We have the lettuce tossed in dressing with cheese, then cauliflower and then the bean salad.  Last but not least, the croutons and toss well and serve!

Perfect any night “Salad”!

What have you got in YOUR fridge that you can call salad?

“Left Overs” salad

Beet and Goat Cheese Terrine

Every now and again The Chef will see something somewhere and HAS to make it.

Of late we have been watching Top Chef Canada and there is one contestant who seems to be making a lot of terrines, so The Chef had a hankering to make one for us.  I couldn’t refuse.

Now don’t get me wrong, terrines come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and flavours.  But mostly it means a dish full of stuff squished down hard till it sticks together well and then turned out and sliced up and eaten, usually in a decorative way.

So on this occasion, he made one of beet and goat cheese.

Start by boiling some whole beets.  He used red ones and golden ones.

Once they are cooked, let them cool till they are cold.  So this can be done well in advance.

When you are ready to build your terrine, peel the beets slice very thinly with a mandolin or with a knife if you are really good at that kind of thing.

Lay them out on a tray and sprinkle with a little oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and some chopped herbs.

Let them sit a little to get acquainted.

Then find yourself a terrine mould.  If you don’t have a fancy one handed down from generations before you, just use a loaf pan of some sort.

You could line it with plastic wrap if you are making something particularly sticky, but the oil on these beets will keep them slippery enough to come out of the mould.

Start layering the beets, perferablely by colour.

Then a layer of goat cheese.

Repeat.

When you finish your last layer, you will need to find something heavy that you can put on top.

Use your imagination.

The Chef topped it with a bit of parchment paper, then we happend to have one of those silicon, soft loaf pans, so he put that on top next and then a couple of heavy cans of whatever.

Put it in the fridge for a few hours to set.

When you are ready, unmould it, slice it up and serve.

Veg Pate

For YEARS I have been trying to score a good recipe for Veggie Pate.

But until now have always been unsuccessful!  I have actually only tried a few because most seem to have some key ingredient that I find objectionable, like too much flour or too much white potato or something or other so I don’t even bother.  Or the ones I have made, have been……okay…..but doesn’t taste like “the one”.

Years ago I went to this bridal shower / stagette type event.  The Bride was a vegan so all of the food could accommodate her.  Actually she and her husband to be were both vegans and so the wedding reception was completely vegan too.  This was quite some time ago, so back in the day something like that was considered quite avant-garde!

But back to the shower.  That was the first time I had ever tasted veggie pate of any kind.  And as someone who LOVES stuff that you can put on bread or crackers, I was very intrigued and delighted.  I didn’t care necessarily that it was vegan or vegetarian or whatever, I just thought that it tasted great!

I had asked the lady who made it if she might give me the recipe and she very pleasantly said “sure, sure……..” but to this day have never got it out of her.  I hear from others that she is very protective of that recipe because it is her “signature” dish!

Well finally I found a recipe that works !  And tastes VERY close to that one I tasted so long ago! 

( click here ) for that recipe.

The only changes I made was that I used rice flour ( cause that’s all I had that wasn’t wheat) AND I added a tbsp of poultry spice because I love that stuff.  Other wise I followed it exactly and it came out perfect!

I have frozen some to eat later.  I will let you know how it holds up.

South West Supper

We very much enjoy the taste of the South West around our house.  Even if we DO live in the North West.  Maybe that’s why?

Tonight I have made a South West beef stew, a South West salad and some South West corn bread muffins.  All together, you have a South West Supper!

I started with the stew so it would have some time to get acquainted.   I have to warn you that this stew will seem remarkably similar to chili.  That’s cause it most is the same only instead of ground beef I used stewing beef.

So in your dutch oven, brown in a few splashes of oil:

  • cubes of stewing beef dredged in a little flour ( or whatever protein you are into)

Once they are browned on all sides, remove to a resting bowl.   Then add to the pot:

  • 1 large onion sliced and or cubed
  • 1/2 of 1 large red pepper cubed
  • 1 small carrot cubed

Try to keep all of these things the same size of cube for consistency.

Cook these till they are nice and sweaty looking and then add:

  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika ( smoky adds more flavour)
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp chili flakes ( depending on your tolerance)
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 3-4 cloves minced fresh garlic

Feel free to use more or less of anything depending on your taste.

Mix those into the vegetables well, then return the meat to the pot with any juices that may have collected.  Stir it all well.

Then add:

  • 1 small tin tomato paste
  • aprox 1 cup water or stock

Stir, cover and let come up to a boil, stir again and turn down to a simmer.

Shortly before serving add:

  • 1/2 can rinsed black beans

Stir in and turn off heat.

South West Stew

While your stew is simmering you can put together your South West Salad.

Add together is a bowl:

  • the other half of the can or black beans
  • 1/2 a can of nibblet corn ( keep other half for corn bread)
  • the other half of the red pepper diced ( same size as corn and beans)
  • 2 green onions ( green part only) sliced on the diagonal
  • 1 large handful of fresh cilantro finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin

Toss all that together.

Just before serving add:

  • 1 ripe avocado diced
  • juice of 1 whole lime
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • S & P to taste

Toss again and serve.

South West Salad

Put these two dishes together with some nice corn bread muffins to soak up the sauce and you’ve got yourself a tasty South West Supper!

South West Supper

Singapore Noodles

Back in the day, I used to eat a LOT of Singapore Noodles! 

Back when I lived in Montreal, I used to work as a Stage Manager in live theatre, so every Thursday night, I would call in the order from the lighting booth and then after the show,  we would swing by the Kam Shing restaurant on Cote des Neiges Blvd to pick up a big order of Singapore Noodles and General Tso Chicken.

Those were the days!   I could still eat shrimp back then.  In fact, it was while eating those noodles every week that I started to notice “the trouble”.  I always dread the thought that I may have over eaten shrimp to the point of being allergic!!

Oh well……so now I make my own, without the shrimp of course!

Feel free to add shrimp if they are no trouble to you.  Or substitute with chicken or tofu or like in this particular version, there is nothing at all!

Firstly, you will need:

  • 1 pack thin rice stick noodles (rice vermicelli)

Then, thinly slice up:

  • 1 red or green bell pepper  ( or half of each)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 carrot into match stick size bits
  • 2 cups Napa cabbage
  • 3 teaspoons minced ginger
  • 1 cup of mung bean sprouts ( but I didn’t use any)
  • 2 green onions

Then for the sauce mix together:

  • 1/4 cup water or broth
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar  ( or favorite sweetener)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt  ( or 1 tsp soy sauce )
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder, or to taste

Start by boiling some water for you noodles, either in a pot or a kettle.  When the water boils, turn it off and add the noodles or pour boiling water over noodles in a bowl, stir to soften them.

Rice vermicelli noodles

Then in a skillet or a wok, heat some oil then add, peppers, carrots and ginger. 

Once they get a head start, add the cabbage and if using, bean sprouts.  Add a bit of the sauce to help cook down the cabbage.

Drain the noodles and add to the skillet, toss into vegetables.

Add the remaining sauce and the green onions, toss quickly till noodles are completely coated.

Singapore Noodles

Serve immediately.  I garnished with some chopped cilantro and black sesame seeds.

Ah the memories!

Polenta treats

After our trip to Ulla the other night I was determined that I could make some sort of polenta treat similar to their idea!  I mean how hard can it be……..right?

Well, I’ll tell you right now, mine were NO where near as creamy delicious as their’s, but turned out to be a very nice appetizer / party snack none the less!!

Start by whipping up a batch of your favorite polenta.  ( see internet for instructions)

And then pour it out onto a parchment paper covered tray.   Shape into an as even layer as you can, being sure to square up the edges.  Then let cool till almost cold!

When cold and firm, cut into the shapes of your choice.  I chose “fry” like stick shapes on this occasion.  Spread them out away from each other.

Then brush them with olive oil on all sides.  Baking them will make them healthier than deep frying them.

Put into a 450 degree oven and let them crisp up.  Keep a close eye so they don’t burn.  When they start to get crispy on one side, take them out and turn them around till they are a lovely golden toasted colour.

Serve immediately with the dipping sauce of your choice.

Polenta treats

We just had them with mayo this time, but the wheels were turning about all the wonderful dipping sauces I might come up with in the future.

I was very pleased with the results.  I think you could make these as fancy or as casual and the occasion calls for and will certainly be a crowd pleaser!  

But if you are having dinner after them, be careful not to fill up.  It is very easy to abuse these!!  Eat with caution!

%d bloggers like this: