Good things to eat

Posts tagged ‘snacks’

Zucchini Fritters

Here is a surprisingly tasty snack for you.

Over the last few weeks there seems to have been so many “Snack Worthy” things on TV.  All of the award shows and of course the Super Bowl…….

So I was looking for something a little more interesting to serve than all the usual suspects.

I happened to find something similar to this on a Vegan website – no need to tell anyone they were Vegan and spoil the decadent impression that they made!

In the original recipe they were served with a cashew cream, so they were truly Vegan.

I served them with sour cream laced with Chipolte Tabasco sauce, which is still a Vegetarian item!

Start by grating:

  • 3 medium zucchini

Put the grated zucchini into a clean tea towel and squeeze it over the sink as hard as you can to get as much of the liquid out as possible!

Then add to a mixing bowl with:

  • 1 medium grated carrot
  • 3 Tbsp finely chopped red onion

Meanwhile grind in a coffee grinder or mini food processor:

  • 1 Tbsp flax seeds

And then add that to:

  • 3 Tbsp water

And let those sit together for about 5 – 10 minutes till they form a thick goop.

This is what we are going to use instead of the traditional egg.

However, if you don’t have any flax, or a grinder and don’t care about egg, by all means use egg!

Then toss together the flax with the zucchini, carrot, onion with:

  • 1/4 cup chickpea flour
  • 1 Tbsp arrowroot powder
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Mix these all together till you get a nice thick batter.

Heat a skillet and add enough oil to coat the bottom, but I don’t like too much so they are swimming, but enough that the bottom is covered.  I even brush the oil around with a pastry brush so the pan is well coated.

Then start adding batches of about a 1/4 cup of mixture, as many as comfortably fits, and flatten them down.

Cook until golden and crispy on both sides.   Keep them warm in a low oven till they are all ready.

And then serve immediately!   With the topping of your choice.

These were really good considering there was no egg or real flour and really kept their shape.

 

zuccini fritters

Just make your own

I was thrilled to find out that a new bulk store opened here in Victoria.

It is a franchised chain that I often enjoyed while living in Ontario and I have missed it ever since I left!

I think bulk food stores are great.  Because you KNOW it is the same product coming from the same place that the brand name grocery stores and even health food stores are selling you prepackaged for three times the price!

I buy most of my dry goods in bulk, rice, beans, peas, nuts, spices, flours and then I bring them home and have a collection of jars that I put them into and away I go!  I find it makes my cooking life so much easier and cheaper!

But sometimes if you just do things yourself, you can make things even cheaper!

Like take tamari almonds for instance.

I was at the bulk store with my friend when she announced that she needed some.   “Why don’t you just make your own?” I asked, seeing the considerable difference in price between the tamari almonds and the plain ones.

“How do you do that?” she asked.

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Well……let me tell you.

You will need:

  • 1 baking tray lined in parchment paper
  • a little bowl or pot
  • about a cup of raw or plain toasted almonds
  • enough tamari ( I just used Bragg sauce) to cover

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Put the almonds in the bowl and then give a few good shots of tamari.   Not so that they are swimming, but enough that you know everybody will get coated.

Give the nuts a few good stirs, making sure everyone is covered and then let them sit for at least 10 minutes, but longer is fine.

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Heat your oven to 200 degrees.

When you are ready, stir the nuts a bit more and then spread them out on the parchment covered tray.  Try to give each nut as much space at possible.

Bung them in the oven.

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Let them dry in there for as long as it takes.   Feel free to take them out and toss them a bit with a spatula.

But you don’t want to take them out until the sauce has completely dried.

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Once done, let cool completely before putting into an air tight container.

If they aren’t completely cooled, they will get sweaty and then go soft and you don’t want that!

And there you have it.   Tamari covered almonds!

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Zucchini Snacks

Even Vegans eat snacks!

I find that sometimes an hour or two after your perfectly healthy dinner of ………whatever and salad……or whatever and rice, you find yourself just a little peckish before the nights end.

Popcorn helps.

And I found a way around the butter problem.   I make up a little concoction of:

  • melted coconut oil
  • dried garlic
  • smokie paprika
  • a little brown sugar
  • bit of salt
  • bit of ground pepper
  • even a dash of Tabasco if you are so inclined

Mix all that up and toss your freshly popped corn in it.

But when I say toss it in it…..I DON’T mean to the point of which everything is dripping in goo.

No, just enough that the oil is the vehicle for the other more intense flavours to have something to help them stick to the corn.   So a light “dusting” if you will.

popcorn

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But then I noticed that I had a zucchini that was on his way out.  Just slightly too limp to eat raw and I must confess I am not a fan of cooked zucchini, so what to do?

Well……

I got out my trusty mandolin and shaved that zuck into nice thin slices.

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Placed them on a parchment covered tray.

Then I gave them an ever so slight brush of olive oil.

Then sprinkled the first batch with a little sea salt and cracked pepper.   While the second batch got dried garlic and a fairy dust touch of nutritional yeast.   If you’ve never tried nutritional yeast on snacks you are missing out!!  Tastes just like some salty parmesan cheese…..only for Vegans…….I think…….maybe some don’t eat it cause it’s “alive”?  Not sure……but it is delish!!

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Bung those in a low 300 degree oven and let them dry up.  Keep an eye because there seems to be a very fine line between perfect and burned.

I hate to admit it…..but I ate them ALL up!  A whole zucchini worth!!  WAY better than some pesky ol Pringle Chips!!

Try em!

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Going to a party?

Here’s a little something for you!

These are great to make for your own parties but even better to bring to other parties!

Let’s call them “Bacon, leek pinwheels”.

Start with a nice big sheet of store bought ( or make your own,but then kind of defeats the easy factor) laid out and thawed.

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Meanwhile in your favorite vessel, cook up about 6 -8 strips of bacon, but cut them into tiny “lardon” strips before cooking.

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Once those are well on their way add 2-3 finely sliced ( I used the mandolin) leeks, white part and a bit of the green.  But what ever you do make SURE to wash them before putting them in the pan!!  Nobody needs leak sand in their snacks!!

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Cook those down into the bacon.

Then add:

  • a couple of cloves of minced garlic
  • a generous splash of balsamic vinegar
  • sprinkle of chopped rosemary ( dry or fresh)

Keep cooking that all down till it becomes leeky bacon goo.

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Let it cool.

Once it is at room temperature, smear it evenly on to your puff pastry, leaving about an 1 inch band on one side.

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Then top the bacon leak mixture with your favorite grated cheese.  I used my good ol Horseradish cheese for an extra zing.

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Then cut the whole thing into about three strips along the short side of the pastry.

Then start at the top where the filling is and roll the pastry down till you get to the blank spot, moisten the edge with a bit of water, then press it into the roll and tighten it up.

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Now here’s the big “Chef trick” that will make things so much easier!!  Pop the rolls into the freezer for about half hour.  This will firm them up really nice and make them SO much easier to slice!!  Guess who taught me THAT trick??

So once they have firmed up in the freezer, take them out and slice them into about 1/4 inch thick rounds and place them on a parchment paper covered tray.

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At this point you can proceed, or pop them into the regular fridge till you are ready to bake them.

When you are ready to go, preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Then give them a little brush with a beaten egg and then if you like, sprinkle on some chunky finishing salt and into the oven they go!!

Depending on the speed of your oven, they take about 15 -20 minutes to bake.  But keep an eye on them, you don’t want your party masterpieces to burn!

When they puff up and are golden brown…..they are good to go!

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Take out and let cool down to room temperature if you are transporting them.

Or eat immediately…….if you are……eating them immediately!

But this batch was going to a party.

A great thing I love to use to take stuff to parties is discarded baby greens boxes.   They are sturdy enough, have a nice fitting lid and the best part?  You don’t CARE if you don’t bring it home again!!

Off you go to your party……

But a word of caution.  You might want to tell people that they are a savory snack, for some reason at the party I took them to, everyone thought they were cinnamon buns!  But they all got gobbled up none the less!!

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Add some “zing” to your popcorn

Now I love nice traditional little butter, little salt popcorn as much as the next person but sometimes it is really nice to just take it up a notch!!

Here’s one of my favorite things to do.   In a small sauce pan add:

  • a good knob of real butter
  • 1 tbsp smokie paprika
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • a few dashes of Chipolte Tabasco Sauce
  • 1 tsp salt

Melt that stuff down into the butter till it is all completely liquid.

Meanwhile use your favorite method of making fresh popped popcorn.  I just LOVE my whirly pop popcorn popper!!

Dump the popcorn in a bowl and then immediately pour over the melted butter mixture and then toss like a salad, as fast as you can and try to get as much corn coated as you can.

Serve immediately!

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Super Snack

Well, while the others are all chowin down on chicken wings and nachos today during the big game, why don’t you try THIS one on for size!

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What is it they say?  Necessity is the mother of invention?  Or something like that?

I found myself home alone and completely unsupervised so I didn’t really have much motivation to cook myself anything proper.

So I dug around the kitchen and quite accidentally came up with this and what a fine invention it turned out to be!!

Turn your oven on to broil.

Get a baking sheet.

Slap on a piece of pita bread.

Put it under the broiler for a little, just long enough that it toasts a little.

Take out that try.  Turn over pita.

Toss done a handful of baby or chopped arugula for nice peppery taste.

Cover with a few slices of horseradish cheese  ( I suppose a strong cheddar would do but this horseradish stuff just kills!!).

Sprinkle with a few pine nuts or chopped walnut.

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Put back under the broiler until cheese melts and nuts are toasted.

Bam!

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Super super snack!

You could make  a bunch of them and cut them up and serve as party snacks, or do like I did and have it for dinner with a side salad.

So easy!

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Fancy Focaccia

I made a little batch of this over the holidays and found it to be a great little “tide you over” type snack.  Cause God forbid you should go hungry for any reason!

But sometimes you just find yourself in between “feasts” and need a little something.

Holidays 2012039

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Start with a fairly straightforward bread recipe:

  • 1 1/4 cups warm water
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp yeast
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp olive oil ( 2 tbsp in dough, 2 later)

Topping:

  • seedless grapes cut in half
  • rosemary

Combine water, sugar and yeast and let sit about 5 -10 minutes until the yeast starts to froth up.

Then if you like, mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and then add the wet stuff gradually.

But I’m really not a fan of dirtying too many things so I just do it all in the mix master machine.

I’m also not much of a “kneady” girl, so again, I let the machine do it.

After the yeast has frothed, add the salt and the oil, then turn on the machine and put the flour in about a cup at a time, stopping to add more and scrape down the sides.

Then with the dough hook, let it go until it forms a nice ball.

OR   do it all the traditional way of flouring a board and kneading it.

Then oil a bowl and drop the dough ball in, turning it over in the oil a bit so it won’t stick.

Then cover with a damp tea towel and put somewhere warm and draft free ( I usually put it in the turned off oven) for about 2 1/2 hours till it doubles in size.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees

Then,

Once that has happened, brush a 9 x 13 size dish or pan with some more olive oil and drop the ball of dough in the middle.   With your fingers, poke and stretch the dough till it covers the bottom of the pan.

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Then,

Arrange the grape halves as you please, all over the top the dough and then sprinkle with rosemary.

I didn’t on this occasion, but you could also sprinkle with some coarse salt.

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Then bung it in the oven for about 20 to 25 minutes, till golden brown.

Cool on a rack and serve!

It tastes wonderful with some nice Boursin Cheese spread on it!!

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Spooky Dip

Okay, so maybe it isn’t THAT spooky, but it IS made with orange and black food!  So I think that counts!

I started by do up a batch of my Roasted Yams but instead of adding my favorite poultry spice to them, I used pumpkin pie spice instead!  And a bit of chili flakes and cumin.

Meanwhile in the food processor, finely squish 1 -2 cloves of fresh garlic.  Then add some rinsed black beans and whiz those up together.

Then I added about a 1/4 cup of plain pumpkin seeds for a little texture and whizzed those in too.

Then the roasted yams.

Whiz them all up till they are mostly creamy with just a bit of chunky bits.

I realized that I have a similar thing I made, only here I just boiled the yams instead of baking them.   Yam Hummus, either way is good.

Now if you are thinking that this spooky dip is kind of light for having black beans in it, you are very observant.

I have a confession to make.  I didn’t actually USE the black beans!  I had some left over in a container in the fridge that I thought were fine, but even after rinsing thoroughly, they were still pretty stanky!!  So I had to open a can of chick peas instead!

So please use caution when using leftovers!  That could put a whole new meaning in Spooky Dip!

Pumpkin Scones

I thought what with Thanksgiving rapidly approaching ( this weekend here in Canada but next month in the US) that I would re-run a favorite seasonal treat that I tried last year.

Pumpkin Scones

I see a version of these in my local grocery store every year and it always bothers me how expensive they are!   And they REALLY aren’t as good as these!

Givem a try and impress your people!

Pumpkin scones

 

Here’s something you should know about!

Now, if you’ve been following me for any length of time, you’ll know that I am an advocate of healthy eating!

But I also realize that people have to live in this world and need to enjoy life too.  So it has always been my philosophy that if people are well informed and can make the best choices for them, at least 80% of the time.  Then you should do okay.

By the same token, I am a great champion of “real” food!  Even if it is “oohy gooy” sweet or high in fat, I still think that if you made it yourself and know EXACTLY what is in it, that it is better than the processed version!

But ALL that being said, sometimes, life presents realistic situations, where unless you have a charmed life where you can spend all of your time preparing every last morsel of your own food, you are going to HAVE to eat something that came from a package!

It is just a fact of life!

So I was very happy when the nice people NATURALLY SAVVY approached me to have a look at their new book:

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UNJUNK YOUR JUNK FOOD

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And I think it couldn’t have been better timing what will Fall upon us and people getting back to their busy school and work lives where every now and again, packaged food is inevitable!

What they have done in this book is gone though an extensive list of “junk food” items and on one side listed the “undesirable product” with strong case evidence as to WHY you should NOT eat this particular item.  And then on the other side, listed a comparable product, i.e. a different brand of ice cream, with evidence as to WHY this one IS a much better choice!

But what’s really good is it is teaching you just WHAT you are looking for and how to recognize the “bad” ingredients from the “good”.

It is well organized and very easy to understand.  It has pictures of each product so you can recognize them when shopping and explains in easy terms the ingredient labels and shows the comparison between each product.

It is also chock full of explanations, definitions, tips and other helpful information, all in quick, easy to read format. 

And it is a great little size to put in your reusable shopping bag to bring along to the store as a great reference book while shopping!

And kids will love it because they will be able to play along in the grocery store!  “Buy THAT one Mommy not THIS one!”  Which might distract them from all the other activities they often get up to at the store!

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Here are some of the things you should keep an eye out for and to try and avoid when making YOUR choices!!

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For more information check out Naturally Savvy on FACEBOOK and TWITTER!

 

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Goat Cheese Cakes

Here is a super little snack or appetizer or in this case we just had it with a bunch of dips and a glass of wine for a wonderfully tasty summer supper!

Goat cheese cakes

Here’s what’s in the goat cheese cakes:

  • Goat cheese
  • chopped basil
  • chopped garlic
  • chopped sun-dried tomato
  • chopped jalapeno olives
  • black pepper

Mix all of this very well together in a bowl.  Then take out large spoonfuls of the mixture and make them into little disks or “cakes”.   Then put them on a tray with some parchment paper and then put them in the freezer!

Keep them in the freezer for about 1/2 hour or until they get nice and firm.  This makes them SO much easier to work with.

Then you are going to bread them with the usual process.

  • flour
  • egg
  • breadcrumbs

Then it is time to pan fry them in just a little oil.

Then back to the tray with parchment and into the oven at 350 for about 10 minutes max, just to set them.

Then you are ready to eat!

The Chef told me that he had prepared a salad of “local greens”.  We laughed and laughed, because he just took them from the balcony garden!!  That’s pretty local!

Humus, onion jam, tomato compote

Then we paired them with some lovely tasty dips.

  • spicy humus
  • onion jam
  • tomato compote

I will give you the recipes for these another time!

And then some roasted garlic, assorted olives with crostini and fancy bread!

With a nice glass of wine……nothin beats it!!

Something Simple

Do you ever crave something just so simple it seems silly??

I had just that craving for my lunch.

How simple was it?  Well let me tell you.

I took a slice of my favorite Dimpilmeier rye bread and lightly toasted it.

Then added a generous layer of Boursin garlic flavoured cheese, then a few slices of beautifully ripened tomato.

A few turns of the pepper mill, a little sprinkle of sea salt and I was in heaven!

Tomato and Boursin on rye

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!

Oscar nachos

We didn’t have an Oscar party, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have some sort of party like food while you watch…….does it?

I whipped up a batch of nachos!  What better and easier, to stuff your face with while you yell at the TV?

First I started with making some fixins to go with them.   The beauty of nachos is that there are really no rules, so you can put anything you like on them!

 

Nacho fixins

I chopped up some red onion, green onion, tomato.   Then I grated some cheese and squished up some avocados into guacamole.   And then I added a few drops of my favorite Chipolte tabasco sauce to some sour cream.

I took a baking sheet and put down a layer of nacho chips ( use your favorite kind, I used white corn) then I added some left over chili I had kickin around in the fridge.  But make sure you heat it up first to make sure it is properly brought back up to temperature.

 

I spread that and some pickled hot peppers and then sprinkled some grated cheese.   Then added a few more chips and did the same again.   That way you don’t get that big melted mess in the middle.

 

Toss them in the oven under the broiler for…..as long as it takes……..just long enough to melt the cheese and the outside chips start to get slightly brown…..or to your taste…..but KEEP AND EYE ON THEM!!

 

 

Oscar nachos with all the fixins

 

Add some fixings and serve immediately.

On the eve of

When there aren’t any children in attendance for Christmas Eve, it really can become a free for all.

Somewhere deep inside you all of the rules and restrictions that were imposed upon you around Christmas as a child suddenly have the need to be disobeyed.

“Please can we open one present???”  

“No”

“Please can I eat some candy??”

“No”

“Please can we stay up late??”

“No”

So when you are a grown up……you can do whatever you WANT!!

My tradition with these particular relatives is that on Christmas Eve, instead of a dinner of any kind, I make a bunch of party snacks and we sit around and have a casual time eating them and having a drink or two.  Or as my Scottish cousin likes to say “Let’s have a wee Beaujolais!”  Which pretty much refers to all alcohol  beverages!

So the menu on this night was:

  • Beets with goat cheese and spicy sweet walnuts with a balsamic drizzle
  • Smoked salmon and boursin cheese on cucumber
  • Spicey sausage balls
  • Yam cakes
  • Stuffed mushrooms
  • Dates with bacon
  • Cheesey puff crackers
  • Caramelized onion tarts

Beets with goat cheese and spicy sweet walnuts:

Boil up a few red beets, skin on, until tender.  Let cool, peel and slice into 1/4 inch rounds and top with goat cheese and sprinkle with toasted ( or in my case I sweetened and spiced) walnuts and then drizzle with balsamic and oil.

Beets with goat cheese and walnut

 

 

Smoked salmon and boursin cheese on cucumber:

Exactly how it sounds.   Cream together some smoke salmon and boursin cheese and top it onto rounds of cucumber.  I cut one inch chucks on an angle and then hollowed out the centre so the salmon wouldn’t fall off.

Smoke salmon and boursin cheese on cucumber

 

Spicy sausage balls:

1 pound of bulk spicy sausage meat.  1 medium jalapeno pepper finely chopped.  1/2 cup corn niblits ( fresh, frozen or canned) 1/2 cup grated smoked cheddar cheese, 1 cup of pre made biscuit mix.   Mix all ingredients together thoroughly and then form into balls.  Bake on a cookie sheet lined in parchment paper until toasty brown.   I served this with a dipping sauce of sour cream with chipolte sauce.

Spicy sausage balls

 

 

Caramelized onion tarts:

One package of store-bought puff pastry, rolled out into 4×4 inch squares on to a baking sheet.  Meanwhile caramelize some onions and then further cook them down with a generous slosh of balsamic vinegar to sweeten them further.   Then top the squares of pastry with a few spoonfuls of onion mixture, a few of the spicy sweet walnuts ( or other nuts, pine nuts etc) and a light handful of grated cheese like a white cheddar or blue.  Then bake in the over according to instructions on the pastry package, or until the pastry puffs and the cheese melts.

Caramelized onion tart

The snacks were all a big hit.

Christmas Eve snacks

But contrary to what I believed about being a grown up on Christmas, there was one stick in the mud amongst us ( I won’t say WHO) who simply wouldn’t give in to the peer pressure and could not be persuaded to let us open our presents before bed!!  Imagine!  I mean we could stay up as late as we wanted and sleep in as long as we wanted, so why would there be rules about “Christmas morning”??

Oh well, some people just like tradition!

Scouts – Be prepared

I think that when heading out on any road trip it is important to be prepared.

Sure there is all the obvious stuff like making sure the car is in good working order and having some basic emergency items on board in case of incident.

But what I’m really talking about is how important bringing along the right food can be!

I’ll admit that I am very very bad about having food in the car.  Whether it is for a road trip or just a day out with picnic.  I can’t stand knowing food is there and so it makes me so hungry that I just can’t wait to eat it!  Many a “perfect picnic” destination has been missed in my life by my anxious “oh this place will do” attitude.  Sad really.

The deck of the M.V. Coho Ferry

We had to start this journey by taking a ferry.  Actually, when you live on an island, most journeys start that way.  I love taking the ferry except for the fact that it is so expensive so I always at least try to pack some food to ease the burden.

My favorite thing to bring along for the early morning wait in the ferry line up is a good breakfast sandwich.  I try to make most of it the night before and then just assemble it in the morning, wrap it in some parchment and then some tin foil and then bung it in the oven on a low temp while you are getting ready.  Then into one of those thermal grocery bags, if you have one and they stay warm enough till you are ready to eat them.

For a real treat you can make a breakfast pastry.

You’ll need:

  • a few sheets of prepared puff pastry rolled out to size
  • 1 egg per pastry
  • sliced ham
  • favorite cheese
  • Dijon mustard

I beat the eggs one at a time in a bowl and cook them omelette style one at a time.  Or you can make one big omelette and then cut it into pieces.

Roll out the pastry and cut it into about six-inch squares.   Put a bit of diction mustard in the middle ( or whatever other condiment you might enjoy) then layer the rest of the items as desired.  Fold the pastry over to make a nice pocket and make sure you seal the edges very well.  Poke a whole or two in the top and then give it a quick wash with some beaten egg or some milk and then bake as per pastry instructions.

Make sure you let them cool really really well before you wrap them, otherwise they get sweaty and unpleasant.   Then pop them back in the oven in the morning to heat them before you go.

But the breakfast sandwiches are usually long gone before we ever actually make it on the boat!!  The wait line can take awhile.

Then we load up the cooler with whatever planned or unplanned food we have kicking around that can be easily eaten along the way.  But be careful when crossing boarders because some countries don’t want you bringing your stuff to their side.  For instance, British Columbia lamb is for some reason forbidden when crossing into Washington State.   And of course don’t even think about bringing fruit to the Pacific West.  Don’t forget that Washington, Oregon and especially California are big agriculture States and they don’t need any pesky stowaway!!

My other favorite thing is to hit up the bulk section of the grocery store.  There are a multitude of pre mixed or make your own combinations of munchie snacks!  My favorite is sesame sticks with dark chocolate covered almonds!!

Packs some drinks and some water and some stuff to clean up with and you are ready for whatever the open road has to offer!!!

Fish tacos

Two things that I really don’t like the smell of in the house are fried and fish.  So you can only imagine how much I would dislike “fried fish”!    ψ

We’ve been watching a lot of the Food Network’s ” Eat Street“.  A show about various food carts or street food all over the place.  They really come up with some great ideas and I would love to eat at least 95% of everything they have on there.  The other 5% usually involves shell fish of some kind which I am allergic to and therefore must avoid.

But something I’ve been dying to try is Fish Tacos!

I tried looking up some recipes but most of them call for frying the fish.  Which I’m sure tastes great, but brings me back to the problem of smelly stuff in the house, but I found a way around it!  I BAKED the fish instead!  Worked great.

You will need some firm white fish.  Although I imagine you could use salmon too but that is a much stronger flavour.  On this occasion I used haddock and it worked great.

I chopped it into bite size chunks, put it in the dish and drizzled it with a bit of olive oil.  Then sprinkled it with cumin, chili powder and some pre-packaged “Cajun spice” that I had.

Then I put it into a 400 degree oven for about 12 – 15 minutes or until it is nice and opaque.

Baked haddock

Meanwhile, I got my toppings ready.

First I took sour cream and mixed it with chopped fresh cilantro, Chipolte Tabasco sauce and S&P.  Put that aside and let it get acquainted.

Then I chopped up:

  • 1 ripe tomato
  • 1/2 ripe avocado
  • 1/2 small red onion
  • handful of fresh cilantro leaves

While all of this was going on, I wrapped a few tortillas in some tin foil and popped them into the toaster oven.  Make sure you cover them up or they will get very dry and nasty.

So, when the fish is cooked, the tortillas warmed, the garnish chopped, it is time to assemble.

First lay down the tortilla.

Then a dollop of the chipolte cilantro sour cream

Then a few pieces of fish

Then top with tomato, red onion, avocado and a few leaves of cilantro!

There you have it, a beautiful, non fried, fish taco!!

Fresh fish taco

Roll it up and eat it!

Oh and for a little extra zing and some vitamin C, add a splash of fresh lime juice over top!

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Dried Apple

It’s that time of year when apples are in abundance!

My friends have a big apple tree in their back yard and every time I go round I end up coming home with a big bag fruit!   So I keep trying to find interesting things to do with them.  The Chef has already made the obligatory “Apple Crisp” and even “Apple Strudel” but I wanted to take it a step further.

A few years ago when I was on one of my many “RAW FOODS” kicks I bought a food dehydrator and try to use it when ever I can. 

Dehydrator

Why not some dried apples?

Drying things is really quite easy with this machine.   Just slice it up, put it on a tray, turn it on and leave it for a few hours and before you know it, you have dried things!

Dehydrator trays

 
So what you need first is some nice apples.
 
 
 
 

Juicy apples

 Then you want to core them and cut off any blemishes.  I have a handy dandy apple corer.

Trim and core the apple

Then you will need to slice the apple super thin.  I have a mandolin slicer but to be honest, I have several and I’m not too happy with any of them.  But this is the one I have most luck with.
 

Mandolin slicer

 
Slice the apples.  You could put them directly in the dehydrator now and get started or what I did was put them in a bowl and sprinkle them liberally with cinnamon.
 

sliced apple

 
Lay them on the dehydrator trays.
 
 
 
Put them in the machine, turn it on and walk away!  Depending on the liquid content of what you are drying they can take anywhere from 8 to 14 hours.   I put it on in the morning before I left, cause to be honest, it’s just a little bit loud.
 

Apple chips

After 10 hours I had beautiful apple chips!
 

Box of dried apple chips

The big question now?   What do I do with them?  Any ideas?

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Posh Picnics

Who says picnics need to be boring?

I’ve always been a fan of the elaborate picnic food.  I like how they used to do it up in the olden days where they would pull up with servants and tables and baskets of fancy fare and wine.

Okay that might be a bit much now a days but you can still add a few touches to make it interesting.

In Toronto they have  a wonderful “Shakespeare in the Park” that I used to frequent when I lived there.  My girlfriends and I would assemble a sophisticated spread with several courses including dessert and wine!  We are always the envy of those around us and we always get offers of “new friends” who want to be in OUR gang!

I was sad last year when visiting Toronto and going to the play for the first time in a while to find out that you are no longer allowed to drink alcohol there anymore.  Not sure if you were ever really allowed but perhaps they would turn a blind eye.  So be warned if you go there and didn’t know this new rule.  I’m not saying we still didn’t drink our wine…..I mean we’d already brought it……but we were very discreet!

Here in Victoria we have “Movie night in the Park” which I am embarrassed to say we only attended for the first time this week.  They put up one of those big blow up screens and everyone gathers round in their foldie chairs and blankets.

The movie we saw was appropriately called “Who is killing the great Chefs of Europe” a fun 70’s romp with a lot of food and kitchen shots and “Chef humour”.

My Chef whipped us up ( on very short notice I might add) so very delicious sandwiches and some other little snacks.  It wasn’t over the top because it was rather last-minute, but it still was not boring.

Mediterranean style club sandwich

 

Posh up your picnic

So do yourself a favour and put a little care into your next picnic!  You’ll be happy you did!

Home made crackers

So once you have all sorts of dips and spreads you will need something to put them on.

I am really a fan of making my own crackers.  Mostly because you know exactly what’s in them!

I’ve shown you how to make crackers before with the left over pulp from your juicer ( click here to check those out )  and then the crusts we made for our “raw pizza”  ( click here to see that) also make wonderful “raw crackers”.

What’s great too about making your own is that you can keep changing them up every time you make them.  Change the herbs or spices or add some different vegetables or different grains or flours.  And then depending on the thickness you spread them, will determine their crispness, size etc.

Here’s what I used today:  In the food processor add

  • 1 stalk of celery roughly chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 medium sized onion roughly chopped

Grind these up until they are pretty fine.  Then add:

  • a handful of fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 tbsp dried garlic  ( fresh is fine too)
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp whole flax seeds
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Grind this up till well mixed then add:

about 1 cups worth of grain product either all one thing or a mixture of things like

  • whole wheat flour
  • rolled oats
  • flours like, rye, spelt, kamut, chick pea, rice…..you get the idea

Add that in gradually and mix until things get to a nice thick goopy stage.

Cracker mixture

                                

Then we spread it out on our cookie sheet lined with parchment paper to the desired thickness.  Be careful that whatever thickness you choose is the same all over otherwise the edges will burn.

Then score it into the shapes you’d like them to be if you want them the same.  This makes them easier to crack when baked.

Score crackers before baking

Course there is no reason why you can’t leave it is one big cracker and then break it up unevenly for the “rustic” look.

Bake slowly at about 300 degrees and keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.

Let cool and then crack away!!!

Home made crackers

 

 

 

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