Good things to eat

Posts tagged ‘kale’

Curried Kale Pancakes with Maple Glazed Onion topped Eggs!

Now I  know that all of the experts say that the key to a good food blog is enticing pictures of the dish that pull people in to read further and maybe even attempt your dish.

But I made something so delicious for brunch today, that I just had to tell you about it immediately.  I wasn’t even thinking that I would write about it because I had no idea it would be so good.   But then we gobbled it down and I never got a chance to take any pictures!

Hopefully just my description of the item will be enough to do the trick for you!

As anyone who has been following this blog for any length of time knows all too well,  I am a big fan of kale!  And that I like to use it in untraditional places.  Case and point in my kale pancakes.  But I have to say that this recipe is one of most looked at postings on this blog.  And in fact, if you Google kale pancakes, it is the first item listed!  On ALL of the interweb!!

So this morning I felt like making some eggs, but was out of bread for toast and it is a bit of a dreary winter Sunday so I didn’t feel like going out to get any.

What to make?  I didn’t really feel like anything too sweet………of course the kale pancakes!

So I whipped up a batch of the pancake batter, only I changed it up a bit and actually this version is completely Vegan.

Into the blender went:

  • 2 whole cloves fresh garlic
  • about 2 cups worth of ripped kale leaves, stems removed
  • 1 cup plain almond milk
  • 1 cup ( or more till you achieve right consistency) chick pea flour (or flour of your choice)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp curry powder

Whiz that all up in the blender and then let sit a bit.

Meanwhile, heat up your skillet ( I used two at a time to move things along quicker).

Once they are ready, add a bit of butter or oil of your choice and make your pancakes as you normally would.

Keeping the cooked ones warm in a low oven.

Once your pancakes are all cooked, use one of the skillets to caramelize an onion.

When it is well caramelized, douce it with a generous glug of good maple syrup!

Meanwhile, in the other skilled, fry up as many eggs as needed.  I did them to a nice “over easy” so that when you put them on top of the pancake and cut into them, the nice creamy yoke will ooze all over.

When ready to assemble, place pancakes on the bottom, then over easy eggs and then top with the maple covered onion!

Oh MAN was that good!

And if you were so inclined, feel free to add a little bacon or sausage to the equation and some extra maple syrup on top and you will have an impressive brunch item indeed!

I really wish I had a picture for you, cause it was THAT good!

Kale

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.

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Here’s tonight’s group:

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

Get them started.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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So now with our yams and cauliflower roasted.

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Our couscous absorbed and fluffed.

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Our beans and kale marinated.

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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

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

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Spicy Meatball Soup

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I can’t help it. This time of year I just like eating warm comforting things. And now that the holiday season is behind us, there seems to be even less time than usual.  You come in after a busy day and you just want something fast and satisfying. But before you call the pizza guy…..maybe give something like this a try first. On this particular week night I had the idea that I was just going to whip up a batch of my tried and true “Favorite Soup“. Which is usually made with chicken or tofu as the base, but I didn’t have either of those on hand. But what I DID have was some some left over ground meat from making Kofte two nights before. And if you have been following this blog for any time now, you know I am a great believer of making “clean up the fridge” food!

Start by getting your broth going.

  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2-3 cloves chopped garlic
  • aprox 1 inch knob of ginger chopped
  • 1 carrot finely chopped ( optional)
  • 1 celery stock finely chopped ( optional)

In your dutch oven or large pot, get these things going with a bit of olive oil.  Cook them till they are wilty and sweaty looking.

Then add some spices in no particular order and PLEASE feel free to add, omit and change amounts…it is YOUR easy soup!

But rule of thumb about 1 tsp to 1 tbsp of each

  • cumin
  • ground coriander
  • chili flakes
  • curry powder or turmeric
  • garam masala

And then

  • 1 -2 tbsp natural peanut butter ( or other nut butters)

Work these all into the cooking vegetables.

Then add a generous splash of

  • rice wine vinegar
  • soy sauce/tamari/Bragg

Stir those in, let them get acquainted then add

  • aprox 4 cups water or stock of your choice

Bring it all to  boil then turn it down to low, put the lid on it and let it simmer.

Meanwhile

You want to get your meatballs done.   And again, use what YOU have available but try keeping in the flavour range of what you have used in your broth.

I basically used all the same spices in both things.  So a shot in the pot and a shot in the meatball bowl!

So you will need

  • ground meat ( whatever you like)
  • 1-2 cloves finely (super fine) chopped garlic
  • 1 -2 chopped green onion
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup binder like bread crumbs, panko etc
  • handful of fresh chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • assortment of spices from above

Squeeze that all up together and then roll into nice, slightly smaller than golf ball, size balls.

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Then you want to pan fry them first and add to the soup after, other wise, there is a good chance they will get soggy and break up…..which is fine too…..but I like to keep them in tack.

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So while those are cooking, you can now add some other stuff to your soup.  And here is where the “clean out the fridge” element comes into it.   More or less chop up and add whatever say greens you might want.  I used spinach and some savoy cabbage,  but kale would do nicely or chard.

And then I added some nice sliced up cremini mushrooms.  But you want to add these fairly close to the end so they retain a little bit of texture.

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Then for convenience sake, I like to use the old college favorite ramen noodles!  But I always toss out the package of weird who knows what that come with them and just use the noodles.  But feel free to use something else, or nothing at all.

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I really don’t like trying to fight with getting the noodles back out of the soup pot once I’ve put them in so instead I add one packet per person to the soup bowl first.

Top with the boiling hot soup and then cover with an upside down plate or something like that and let sit for about 10 minutes until the noodles absorb the liquid.

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Then make sure the noodles are done by giving a bit of a stir with a chop stick to loosen them up.   Then add the cooked meat balls to the top and any sort of  additional topping you might want, like chopped green onion or cilantro and some chopped peanut or a sprinkle of sesame seeds…..whatever you like to jazz it up.

And then just before eating, squeeze a shot of fresh lemon juice on top to help brighten the flavours AND give you a little shot of vitamin C!!

Enjoy!

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A turn in the weather

It’s disappointing  that I feel the need to write a blog like this in July, but it really has been a weird weather summer  all around.   Scorching heat and drought some places while others are cold, raining and flooding!

I remember that when I lived back east in Montreal or Toronto I would cherish a summer day like this.  We would usually have suffered weeks of blistering heat, so a cold rainy day would be very welcome.   We never get “blistering” heat here in Victoria but summer is usually a good solid “nice”.

But why not make the best of it??   Actually I couldn’t be happier with this kind of activity!

First I popped a batch of  BREAD IN A POT into the oven that had been “festering” over night and will take it out in a few minutes.

And then why not have a nice bowl of soup to cheer you up!

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I had some left over spicy Italian sausage from my STUFFED PORTOBELLO MUSHROOMS the other day so I started with that.

Heat up your Dutch oven or sturdy pot and then add in the sausage ( loose sausage not in casing) and stir it around until it is well browned.   Then add:

  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 carrot finely diced
  • 1 stock of celery finely diced
  • 1/8 – 1/4 green CABBAGE shredded

Add those to the sausage and stir them up until well wilted.

Once they are all well acquainted I tossed in a handful or two ( 1/2 cup) of my favorite legumey soup mixture.    It comes from the bulk section of my grocery store and is a combo of  green and yellow split pea, barley, lentil and maybe a bit of rice for good measure.  I really enjoy this combo because some of the items cook down while others keep their shape.

So toss that in and then stir making sure the legumes are well covered with all the juices etc of the sausage and veg.   Let that go for a few minutes and then add enough stock or water to just cover everything.

Bring it up to a boil, then turn it down to a nice simmer.  It will need at least 45 minutes to cook but that’s why it’s a good “go about your business” kind of dish.   But do check on it and stir it from time to time.

Then about 10 minutes before you are actually ready to eat it, toss in a very large handful of chopped kale.   This step IS optional, but you know me……..KALE is our friend!!

Let that cook in and then you are ready to enjoy!!

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Mediterranean pasta salad

What with Bar B Q season upon us, we always need to come up with new things to make or bring.  Chances are that over the summer you essentially keep seeing the same ten people in different combinations and locations, so you need to keep straight what you brought to which party so you don’t become THAT person who ALWAYS brings the same thing every time!!

So here’s a dish you can add to your repertoire.

Start by boiling up a pot of the pasta of your choice.  But keep it in the short variety family, rotini, macaroni, fussili, rigatoni etc.

I happened to find something called “Scoobie Doos“!  They are a funky twisted, ribbed macaroni and seem to work perfectly for this kind of dish.

Now if you read my stuff regularly you know I am a great fan of “what ever you have” for most dishes, so I’m just letting you know what I used on this particular occasion, but please feel free to add, omit or substitute.

  • 1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes ( finely chopped)
  • 6 -10 kalamata olives ( pitted and chopped)
  • 1/2 small bulb of fennel ( finely sliced)
  • zest of 1 lemon

Mix all of that up at the bottom of a large mixing bowl.

Then for the “dressing” chop up in a mini chopper or food processor:

  • 2 -3 ( or more depending on relationship with guests) cloves fresh garlic
  • 1/4 cup toasted walnuts
  • 2 pieces of kale ( leafy bits only) – you KNOW how I love to hide kale in things!
  • juice of one lemon
  • fresh herbs if you have them, oregano, basil, parsley
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • salt & pepper

Whiz this up to a nice paste, add a bit more olive oil if needed.

Add this to the bottom of the mixing bowl and mix well in with the other elements.

When pasta is cooked, drain and add immediately to the mixing bowl and toss.   The heat from the pasta with loosen up the other stuff and help it stick to the pasta.

Mix REALLY well because you don’t want globs of the “dressing” stuck at the bottom.

I like to make this at least a couple of hours ahead so all the flavours have time to get acquainted before serving.

Just before you are leaving for the party, or serving at your own place, transfer everything to a more decorative or service friendly dish.   And then top with:

  • a good squeeze of lemon juice
  • some more lemon zest
  • basil leaves
  • chopped fennel fronds ( green feathery stuff on top of fennel)
  • a grind or two of fresh pepper

And you are in business!

Kale Chips

I know, I know!  Everybody and their brother are making these right now…..but I was talking to a friend about them who happened to NOT have actually seen them before …. so this is for HER!

These things are great.  So easy, so tasty and SUCH a great way to hide kale!

Here is what you will need:

  • kale
  • olive oil
  • nutritional yeast
  • salt

Start with your kale, however much you want to make.  Start with one bunch to try, in case for some crazy reason you don’t like them.

Wash the kale really well and dry it even better.

Cut, rip, tear however you like, reasonably large bits of kale from the thick stem.  They shrink a lot so what might seem too big probably isn’t.  And if they are too small they might shrivel up.

So with your torn kale all set, drizzle with a good shot of olive or other quality oil.   Toss very well to make sure the leaves are well coated.

Then sprinkle with nutritional yeast.   And mix well again.

You don’t HAVE to use the yeast, but not only does it add extra nutrients, but it gives the kale a wonderful  almost “cheesey” additional taste to them that is quite delightful.

Spread them evenly on a baking sheet lined with parchment and then sprinkle with sea salt.    But don’t go crazy with the salt, just enough to make them “chip like”.

Put them in a 300 degree oven.   Keep a close eye on them.  There are so many variables as to how long they will take.   Basically you want them to be dried “chip like” things but to catch them before they blacken in any way.   If you go too far, it makes them bitter.

So watch carefully!  But let’s say it is a 10 – 20 minute operation.

Unless of course you are making them in a dehydrator which in that case, follow manufacturer’s instructions.

Then enjoy as a wonderful snack.   Or, as we did the other day, used them as a sort of “crouton” on top of a salad!

And feel free to jazz them up with other stuff too.  I have often added a few dashes of my favorite chipolte Tabassco sauce or a few sprinkles of dried garlic…….the combos are endless!

And the BEST thing?  All the money you will save!  I have seen “kale chips” going for like $10.00 for a small little bag at the health food store!

Take that!

Sorta Miso Soup

I say “sorta” because it is my version and not traditional Miso soup.

Then again, just by vertu of containing miso……doesn’t that constitute Miso soup??

I started with some vegetable stock I had in the fridge.   As I prepare various vegetables during the week, I always seem to have butts and stems and bits that are perfectly good food but they just don’t go with what I’m making.  Like the bottom of the broccoli or asparagus or the middle of a cabbage that isn’t quite as perky as it should be.  I save all this stuff up and then once a week or so I toss them all in a pot with a chopped carrot, onion and celery, or whatever is laying about and needs used.   I cover them with water and add a bit of salt and maybe a little poultry seasoning ( which is mostly sage and such) and simmer them up till they give up their goodness.  I strain it off and then I have lovely vegetable water to do things with!

So I started with some of that, about 2 cups, in a pot and brought it up to a boil.

Then I added:

  • about 1/3 of a block of tofu cut into cubes
  • 2-3 thinly sliced cremini mushrooms
  • 1/2 a carrot cut into match sticks
  • 1/2 small red pepper cut into tiny cubes
  • 2 stocks of kale, ribs removed and finely chopped
  • what ever else you feel like adding

Bring that up to a boil and let simmer a few minutes till the veg gets a bit cooked.

Then turn off the heat and add:

  • 1 – 2 tbsp of your favorite miso paste depending on how salty you enjoy

Stir it in quickly and serve. 

It is important to NEVER boil miso.   Heating it too much kills all the good fermented enzymes in it and defeats the purpose.  I mean it isn’t dangerous or anything, but  you aren’t getting the bang for your buck!!

I topped it with some sliced green onion.

This is a great soup to eat after you have over indulged in some way.  It is very calming and makes you feel good.

Miso Soup

Kale crackers

I was standing around in the grocery store yesterday and was fed up with the price of “good for you” type crackers.

It’s a shame really how the “real” food is so expensive while the sugar leden nutient free stuff is so cheap!  And you wonder why people are so ill…….don’t get me started!

Anyway, I refused to waste money on any of them because I know I can make something WAY better for you and I know exactly what is in them!

As you may have gathered by now, I am a huge fan of kale and like to use it anywhere I can!

Oddly I had some in the fridge that was just about to expire ( weird cause usually it gets used before!).  So I tore up about two big leaves worth and put them into the food processor, with 2 cloves of fresh garlic and 3 green onions ( the whole thing).

I whizzed that up till they were all chopped down to a nice green paste.

Chopped kale

Then it was pretty much a case of the usual cleaning out of the pantry style I seem to enjoy.

I got out the mini coffee grinder and buzzed up a few of my own “flours” out of a few things.  So the measurement would be “one coffee grinder full” but let’s say 1/2 cup just for argument’s sake.

Ground lentils

So 1/2 cup of:

  • ground red lentils
  • ground oat flakes
  • ground flax seeds
  • whole flax seeds
  • corn flour

Then whiz that up.

Then add:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • few grinds fresh black pepper

Grind that up and check the consistency.  Mine was still a bit loose so I added about 1/4 cup of water and blended again.  You want it to be the consistency of a nice thick paste.

Cracker dough

Then turn it out onto a baking tray lined with parchment ( I had enough for two trays worth ).

You can use a spatula to spread it out thinly although for some reason it was particularly sticky today so I covered it with another layer of parchment paper and took the rolling-pin to it.

Roll out dough

Peel off the paper, clean up the edges and then score it into what ever shapes you’d like.

I just did boring squares.

You can then top them with some very coarse salt of your liking…….or not.

Score the cracker dough

Then put them in the oven at a low temperature no more than 300 degrees but 250 or even 200 would be fine.  Because it is almost as though we are drying them rather than baking them.   That way they don’t get over done.

Let cool and enjoy with your favorite topping or plain.

Kale crackers

And you will know exactly what is in them!!

Tuesday night soup

Tuesday night.   Dinner blahs, don’t really feel like cooking……but you gotta eat…..right?

Well let’s see what I can come up with.

I am picturing some potato salad.   I got some nice sized new potatoes on the weekend that have been calling my name.   I cut them into 8th and popped them in a pot of salted water to boil.

But then what?  Just potato salad?  What am I supposed to do with that?

Hmmmm…….

Well, I have already committed to the boiling potatoes.  So in a large bowl I made up a dressing.  I had some left over chopped red and green onion from the nachos, so I tossed that in the bowl with 1 clove of minced garlic.   Then a spoonful or two of Dijon mustard, a shot of soy sauce, about two tbsp of red wine vinegar and about 4 tbsp of olive oil and some fresh ground pepper.   Stirred it up with the whisk.

When the potatoes were done, instead of draining them, I fished them out with a slotted spoon and put them directly into the bowl and tossed them with the dressing.   Doing this while they are hot, helps the dressing stick and soak in.   Then I put the bowl aside till I decided what I was going to do.

Now I had this perfectly good potato water and I had left a few of the potato bits behind.   Hate to waste it, why not make a nice Tuesday night soup with it??

For those of you who read my blog regularly, you know I am a big fan of “cleaning out the fridge” from time to time and seeing what I can come up with!  So here is what went into the soup:

  • a handful of red lentils
  • two handfuls of shaved cooked turkey
  • 1/2 of a big carrot in a small dice
  • 2 tbsp of left over chopped red and green onion
  • 2 cloves fresh minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp Bragg ( or soy sauce )
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • a shot or two of olive oil

Added all those together and brought it to a boil, cooking long enough for the red lentils to disintegrate and thicken the soup.

Then I added about 2 cups chopped kale and cooked for a few more minutes till the kale was good and wilted.

Just before serving, I hit it with a few shots of my favorite chipolte Tabasco sauce!!

Kale and turkey soup

So that was all good…..but I still had this potato salad.

And to be honest, the Chef gets panicky if he only gets soup for his dinner, so why not toss together a nice salad to go with it?

I lined a plate with some nice bib ( or also known as Boston) lettuce that I had.   Then in one corner a good helping of that potato salad.   In the other corner more of that shaved cooked turkey.  Then I added  some carrot curls and cucumber slices.

Then topped it with some  “craisins” , pumpkin seeds and a drizzle of a simple oil and balsamic dressing.

Tuesday night salad

Voila.   Tuesday night dinner!    AND I had some left over for my lunch the next day!

New Years Eve in Seattle

We pulled into Seattle in late afternoon and went straight to the hotel.

We were staying at the Hyatt Olive 8, a shiny new state of the art eco-friendly “green” hotel in downtown Seattle.  We choose the Olive 8 not only for the whole green thing, but also because we would be having dinner in the restaurant downstairs.

Urbane

“The menus at Urbane change frequently to reflect the seasonality of local ingredients including fish and shellfish native to the Pacific Northwest. Says Chef Lopez, “Preparations are traditional and simple allowing ingredients to complement each other without compromising how the food was intended to taste.” Chef Lopez selects the finest fresh foods from celebrated local Seattle resources that include:

  • Beecher’s Cheeses
  • Uli’s Sausage from Pike Place Market
  • Produce from Willie Green Farms
  • Salumi Artesian Cured Meats from Pioneer Square.
A commitment to local, organic ingredients doesn’t limit Chef Lopez’s range of creativity in the culinary arts. True to our regional focus, the wine menu at Urbane exclusively showcases fine Pacific Northwest wines. Enjoy tantalizing regional specialties at our Seattle downtown restaurant, such as:
 
  • Walla Walla’s Thundering Hooves’ pasture-finished bone-in Rib-eye
  • Pan-seared wild Arctic Char served with Butternut Squash Hash
  • Tempting desserts include Toffee Pudding topped with ice cream infused with Mount Rainier honey”

We made sure our reservation was late enough because we wanted to be able to stay up for midnight!  We’re old now so it’s hard to last that long!!

After a quick run around of the big downtown department stores ( we live in Victoria so getting a chance to be in the big city is a real thrill for me!) before they shut down for the big holiday, we went back to the room to rest up a little before dinner.

Finally it was time to go downstairs for dinner.  There also happened to be a big New Years Eve party going on in the ballroom at our hotel, so the place was just teeming with people all dressed up…..with somewhere to go!

We were shown to our table that was perfectly located right next to the window so we could watch all the action outside while we ate.  And imagine our surprise, when at the very table next to us, was the former Mayor of Vancouver, BC, Sam Sullivan, there enjoying New Years Eve dinner with some people!

Originally we thought we were going to have to order off the set menu that they had shown for the evening on-line.  But much to our delight, we were allowed to choose off the fixed menu or the regular dinner menu.

We both started with a salad. 

The Chef got:

caesar | grilled romaine | bacon | croutons |

While I got:

roasted beets | quillisascut blue | pistachios | greens |

Both were very nice.  Then for our main courses…..

The Chef got:

lavender seared duck breast|  cherry sauce | apple fennel salad | lentils |

And I ordered:

steelhead salmon| spaetzle | kale | browned butter |

Mine was SO good.  I’m not a fan of duck so I didn’t try the Chef’s dinner but he was very pleased with his too.

It was New Years Eve so we HAD to order some dessert.   This time we ordered off the special NYE menu and got:

 chocolate trio| frozen mousse | stout gingerbread | white chocolate cherry bar |

Ah what a meal, definitely worthy of a celebration like New Years!

Somewhere during our meal, from our window seat, we noticed a lot of sudden action outside.  Fire trucks and ambulances and a gaggle of police on bicycles all appeared and sped around the corner.  We didn’t think too much of it, not wanting to look like small towners, I mean we have both lived in big cities before……..

After our wonderful dinner we went back upstairs to rest for a few minutes before we got changed and bundled up to walk down to the Space Needle where there was a big midnight celebration and fireworks display.  We turned the TV news on for a few minutes, to see how celebrations were going around the world and imagine our surprise to see footage from outside our hotel!!   Seems there was shooting RIGHT outside our hotel, just around the corner!!!  Seems that’s what all the hubbub during dinner was!   How exciting!   How I miss the big city!

We got bundled up, although I have to admit it wasn’t actually that cold out and headed down in the elevator.  We stopped on a few floors and picked up many revellers who were already in quite “festive” states.  

You know girls….if you are gonna get that drunk…..you really should re-think the wardrobe choices before hand.  Perhaps some lower heels and dresses that don’t hike up dangerously when you fall over……just a suggestion.

So we walked over to the Space Needle with the thousands of other people just in time for midnight.

It was quite a spectacular display and it was really fun to be in the streets with all kinds of people that we don’t even know! 

A fine way to wrap up a very enjoyable trip!  Tomorrow we would head home!

Space Needle Seattle

New Years Eve celebration in Seattle

 
 
 

Fireworks over the Space Needle in Seattle

 
 
 
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Pork loin with veg

This is actually a pretty healthy dish, even if it is pork.

Pork loin is a nice lean cut and you can add so much flavour to it that you don’t really need to eat that much of it at one sitting.

I started by marinating it in:

  • 1 inch fresh ginger finely chopped
  • 2-3 cloves of fresh garlic finely chopped
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp soya sauce

Whiz that up in a food processor, mini chopper or by hand and then pour over the pork loin in a non reactive container.

Marinating pork

When you are ready to go, sear off the pork in a large skillet.  Make sure you brown it on all sides and then return to the roast pan.  This will help keep the meat moist.  Then put it into a 350 degree oven.

Meanwhile, put on a pot of rice.   Normally we only eat the brown nice, on account of the high nutritional value, but for this dish, plain long grain white rice looks really nice!

Then chop up some vegetable of your choice.  Tonight I used baby bok choy, kale, onion and red peppers.

Drizzle a little sesame oil into the same pan you used to sear the pork and stir fry the vegetables very quickly till they are only slightly wilted.

Chop and stir fry veg

When the pork is done, let it rest a few minutes and then slice into 1/2 inch thick rounds.

 To assemble, first place a bed of rice on the plate, then a ring of stir fried veg, then a few pieces of pork lion into the centre.
 
Then I used the left over drippings and marinade in the bottom of the pork pan to pour over as a simple little sauce.
 
 
 
Marinated pork loin with rice and veg
 
 
Actually, based on this photo, seems it would make a nice “Christmas Wreath” dinner too!
 
Just a thought.
 
 
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Squash Soup

Here’s another quick easy soup recipe.

We had some left over squash kicking around that the Chef had been using to make ravioli filling.

So I pulled out the dutch oven, heated her up and added a few sloshes of olive oil.  Then added:

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 carrots peeled and diced
  • 2 celery stocks diced

Cook these together till they are sweaty or even a little browning.  Then add:

  • the left over squash

Then add some herbs and spices if you wish.   I used….wait for it……pumpkin spice!!  It is very appropriate for Fall!   I also added a little cumin and some chili flakes to liven it up.   And some salt and pepper of course.

Then add some stock of your choice or water will do fine too.

Let this all simmer for a bit till the vegetables are nice and tender, then turn off the heat.  Let it cool a little, at least enough till it isn’t bubbling or anything.

Then take the hand blender to it.   Blend until nice and smooth.

At this point you could eat it now if you like but as is my way, I like to hide as many vegetables as possible in soup!  So I added some chopped kale and a few chopped mushrooms.

Turn the heat back on and heat back up until the kale and mushrooms are heated.

Then you are ready to go!

Squash soup

Indian style chicken and red lentils

See now this is a prefect example of how easy it is to be creative in your kitchen and use what you have.

This all started when I was looking at the online flyer from my local grocery store and saw that they have something called “Tandoori red lentil soup” on sale this week their “home meal replacement” department.

I thought to myself ” hmmm…..now that sounds good, bet I could make some of that!”

So I punched that title into our friend Google and a whole bunch of recipes appeared.  I looked at a few and some seemed more complicated than others and so I went through the ingredient lists to see if I could get away with making any of them without having to go to the store!

This is what I came up with.

I started by taking out the trusty dutch oven and over medium heat drizzled in a bit of olive oil.

Then I added:

  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 medium onion finely diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic finely minced
  • about an inch of fresh ginger finely chopped
  • 1 large handful of fresh parsley finely chopped ( cilantro would be MUCH better here but I was without!)
  • about a cup of finely chopped baby spinach  ( it was on it’s last legs in the fridge so in it went!)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

I let those cook a bit and get to know each other.

Then I added :

  • 1/2 cup rinsed red lentils

Stir those in and make sure they are well coated.

Then in a small bowl I combined:

  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander seed
  • 1 tsp crushed chili flakes
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • zest of two lemons ( keep lemons for juice later)
  • a few grinds of black pepper

Make a hole in the vegetables at the bottom of the dutch oven to expose the cooking surface and pour in the spice mixture.  Stir it around a little to “toast” it which will release the flavours.

Then mix everything in together.

Then add:

  • 1 tin crushed tomatoes ( feel free to use fresh but I didn’t have any)
  • 1 tin coconut milk
  • 1 small tin tomato paste

Stir well.

Now you could stop here and have a lovely vegan item, just put on some rice and you are in business.

You could also add a tin of say chick peas or the like if you were so inclined.

But I can only feed the Chef vegan items so many times a week so I also added a couple of chunked up raw chicken breasts.   Cooked would be fine too.

Stir it all up, put on the lid and let’er simmer till the chicken and lentils are good and cooked.   Red lentils pretty much just disintegrate into a nice thick sauce so no need for any thickening agents.

Indian style chicken and red lentils

But I know what you are thinking.   “This doesn’t sound like soup!”

You’re right.   I mean, it COULD be soup if you wanted to add a bunch more liquid and thin it out, but we are eating it on rice for more of a “something I found on the Indian buffet” type item.

Add the juice from the two lemons just before you are ready to go to the plate.  It will balance the flavour and give you a shot of vitamin C to boot!

I of course added a little steamed kale on the side, cause I’m crazy that way!

What we had for dinner

And there you have yourself a hearty, tasty, week night, comfort dish!  

And I didn’t even have to go to the store!!

Roasted tomato pancakes

If you saw my recipe for KALE pancakes earlier this year  ( click here to check them out ) you know that I am a big fan of savory pancakes.

I just really prefer them as the “starch” item on the plate, to rice or noodles or potato.   They have so much more flavour and soak up the flavours of whatever you put on top of them.

Here is a different version, roasted tomatoes.

So to start with roast off some grape or other small cute tomatoes  ( click here to see where we’ve done that before ).

Then make up a batch of your favorite pancake batter only omitting whatever sweetener it calls for.  Or just use the kale pancake recipe for a double whammy of goodness!

If using regular pancake batter add a clove or two of fresh garlic and a few leaves of fresh basil or 1 tbsp of  dried.   Make sure it is mixed well ( I do them in the blender) and then let the batter rest a little before you start.

When you are ready, heat the pan, and pour your first or first few pancakes depending on if you are doing big ones or a few small ones.

THEN strategically add the roasted tomatoes.

Strategically place roasted tomatoes

Let the pancakes bubble as one normally would with pancakes, flip and repeat!

Keep them warm while you make the rest of them.

Roasted grape tomato pancake

Now you are ready to pile her up with whatever you like!

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The good, the bad and the ugly

There is NO such thing as ugly kale!

It’s beautiful leafy greeness.  It’s sturdy personality!

Kale kale beautiful kale.

I’ve been all about the kale these days.  Went on a kale spree the other day on an impromptu trip to a fancy food store.

 

From the bottom left, you’ve got your everyday utility kale.  Every notice when you are in the supermarket, in the butcher case or in the prepared foods, they use good ol kale to divide the sections to make it inviting.

At the top we have Red Boar Kale, sometimes called purple kale, it almost has a flowery scent to it.

And at the right we have Lacinato Kale which I have also heard called dinosaur kale.

All fine choices for any meal.

But did you know that you can also decorate with kale?

Here we have decorative purple and green kale that has been trimmed at the stock and then submersed in water which magnifies it through the glass creating a beautiful effect.

 

 

They can make pretty table settings.

Or how about this?  Using kale in a boutonniere?

 

Or even in a bouquet??

Oh kale kale, beautiful kale!

Make friends with some kale today!

Bar B Qish pork

We are still talking toppings for the kale pancakes.

So where are we? We have the pancakes, we have some roasted yams, now we need something a little more substantial.  Assuming you are into that sort of thing.  It is perfectly acceptable to stop there if meat doesn’t ring your bell!

But on this occasion, we’re going to have a little something more.  I’m gonna call it BBQ “ish” pork, cause it isn’t REAL BBQ, it doesn’t even play it on TV!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Some pork.  I used some stir fry type strips that I found already cut that way in the meat section at my grocer but you could also just get some pork chops and cut them up, or a pork shoulder, whatever is easy.
  • 1 large onion in large slices
  • 1 clove fresh garlic chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper cut in strips
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper cut in strips   (you can use whatever colour you happen to have)
  • 1 small can tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp smokie cumin powder
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes  ( or a few good shots of Chipotle Tabasco )
  • salt & pepper

Get your pan nice and hot and give it a little drizzle of oil, olive or organic canola oil.  Then first add the onions and cook for a minute or two.  Then add in your pork and get a good bit of brown on it, continually tossing.  When those two items have had a good head start, add in what ever peppers you have.

Next we will add the chopped garlic,spices, brown sugar and hot sauce if using. Stir those in till they are well mixed, then add the tomato sauce.  Stir this all up and put a lid on it and turn it down to a slow simmer.  Cook for at least half and hour, but the longer the better.

Now you have all your elements, it’s time to put them together.  

First the kale pancake, then top with BBQish pork on one side and roasted yam on the other.

But your imagination is all you need to find your own fine toppings.

My friend has asked if we could make the kale pancakes thinner and crepe like and then fill them with delicious fillings and I think, WHY NOT!!

In fact, I am going to try that very thing in the near future.  Stay tuned.

Roasted yam

Now that you have your kale pancakes, you’ll need something to put on them.

Here’s what I happened to make this time.

First the roasted yam.

Heat your oven to 350 degrees, then in a glass casserole dish add:

  • Large diced yam
  • Large diced onion
  • a drizzle of olive oil
  • sprinkle of salt and pepper

When I’m going to roast yams like this I usually first cut them into rounds.

Then I cut those rounds down the middle and then into either quarters or sixths depending on the size of the round.  This assures that you are getting a bit of skin on every part of your dice, which gets nice and crispy when you roast them.

Then dice up a regular onion into nice chunky bits and then toss all of the ingredients together in your roasting pan.

Bake until the onions are caramelized and the potatoes get a nice brown on them.  Crispy on the outside and soft in the centre.

This is a delightful combination because they are both sweet and savory at the same time.

The roasted yam is a great side dish at anytime.

Kale pancakes

All right, I know what you’re thinking .  “WHAT??  Kale pancakes??  Really??”

Yes, it’s true.  But don’t worry, these are delicious AND a great way to hide the highly nutritious kale from the leafy green haters!!

I’ll admit that I have never eaten just kale pancakes, although I’m sure they would be just fine.  Instead I always use them as the base for other interesting dishes.  A side dish, an accompaniment, the starch item to balance a plate.  And they go with a multitude of things.

Pretty much anywhere you would use rice as a side dish, you could use the savory kale pancakes.

It is especially good with any sort of “saucey” item like stew, curry, even stir fries.  Just line the plate with them and start piling on the toppings!

Depending on the topping, these can be a regular dish, or a vegetarian dish.  Or if you make the pancake without the help of eggs, it can be a lovely vegan dish.

Here’s what you will need, in a blender:

  • 1 small regular onion roughly chopped  or 4 – 5 green onions
  • 1 peeled clove garlic

Whiz these up in the blender with a few drops of water till they are well blended.

Then add the ingredients for your favorite pancake mix but exclude the sugar or only put half what the recipe would call for.

  • 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

Whiz all this up and then add 1/2 to one whole bunch of kale making sure to remove the middle stems.  I just rip it off the stem, that seems to give you small enough pieces.  Add it a bit at a time to the blender and whiz it down until all is mixed and you have enough.

Once you have your nice green batter, it’s time to make your pancakes!

Heat up your pan and add a little oil so they won’t stick.  Then pour in enough batter for what ever size you’d like your pancake to be.  You could even make more than one at a time if they are going to be smaller.

Then, just like regular pancakes, you will wait for the tell tale bubbles to appear on top of the cake and then it’s time to turn her over!

When they are done, keep them on a tray or heat proof dish in a 200 degree oven till you are ready to eat them.

And there you have them.  Now they are ready to top with your toppings.   The saucier the topping the tastier they get because the sauce will soak into the pancake making them double delicious!

My favorite Vegan meal

 Near the end of my time in holistic nutrition school ( click here to check out my school) I had to do a work study.  Because my focus was on health cooking as a way to spread the gospel of good nutrition, I choose to work at a restaurant in Toronto called FRESH (click here to check out restaurant).  It was at Fresh that I got the basic idea for this dish, although I’m still not sure what we should call it really. A “Rice Bowl” prehaps?
 
This is one of my favorite things to make when I’m home alone, or feel the need like to get maximum nutrition for my effort.  It sounds a bit complicated because there are a lot of elements, but once you’ve made it a few times, it gets easy and there are even short cuts you can take.
 
 
Let’s begin.
 

Right off the top you want to put on a pot of your favorite brown rice.  I always use organic short grain brown rice because I just love the taste, nice and nutty, but you can use whatever you like and hopefully if you are a person who reads food blogs, I’m assuming you know how to make rice.

Then choose a protein product.  You could grill up some marinated tofu or in the case of this particular time, I  used pre-marinated tempeh. 

Marinated Tempeh

 I like this brand because it comes pre-cut and already marinated.

Grill it up in a fry pan with a little oil.

Meanwhile you are going to want to steam up some greens.  On this occasion I used broccoli and kale.  You can either steam them on their own in another pot, or the lazy way like me, where I add them to the top of the rice pot when the rice is about half way to three quarters cooked.  You’ll be eating them all out of the same bowl in the end so getting a little on each other while cooking won’t hurt!

Then it’s time to make the sauce.

Sauce ingredients:

  • 2 cloves fresh garlic
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp crushed chili flakes
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp soya or Bragg sauce
  • 1 tbsp natural peanut butter OR tahini
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp water

Whiz this all up in a small food processor or with a hand blender.  If you don’t have an appliance then chop the garlic and ginger very finely and then mix all ingredients together.

 

 Now that we have all of our elements ready to go, it’s time to assemble.

Start with a bowl and fill it with about a cup of cooked rice.  Then add the broccoli, kale or whatever cooked greens you are using.  Then the next layer is the protein, tofu or tempeh.

To finish it off, add sauce and then the toppings of your choice.  I like things like toasted cashews or sesame seeds, chopped green onions, grated carrot, sprouts of your choice or whatever bits of other live things you might have.

Then at the very last-minute, to make it a super healthy item, a good splash of flax oil!

This bowl is SO packed with nutritients and surprise suprise, it actually TASTES good too!!

ENJOY!!

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