Monday, January 31, 2011

Monday's recipe links - Minimalist style

This edition of links is going to be kind of focused. See, Mark Bittman (the man my husband allows me to worship) is ending his Minimalist column in the New York Times. He isn't retiring, simply moving on to pursue endeavours related to his new passion - campaigning for a return to real food on our tables. To that end, he will be advocating for eaters' rights in the opinion pages of the Times and in his new blog. He will also be featured in a new weekly column in the New York Times Magazine. Of course, you can also buy his new books Food Matters and the The Food Matters Cookbook.

The ending of the Minimalist column is a pretty big deal for some of us home cooks. We have turned to it weekly to get a dose of practical cooking advice and easy, doable recipes. Along the way, we have been exposed to new cuisines, innovative techniques and cool ingredients...and, Lord almighty, no-knead bread (can I get an amen?!). In recent years, we have been educated about eating better, for both ourselves and the planet.

In honour of his last column, Mark selected his 25 favourite recipes. I will include each of them here, along with a few of my favourites - because it's my blog and I can. :-) Many of these recipes are beautiful examples of how vegetables can be the star of a meal. Others are for dishes that are just flat out delicious - and delicious food is an important part of a happy life.

In the first list, the words are Mark's. In the second, they're mine.
  1. RED PEPPER PURÉE The first Minimalist. Check out the roasting technique; it works. (Published Sept. 17, 1997)
  2. CHICKEN UNDER A BRICK So popular that a group in Santa Cruz, Calif., made a T-shirt that reads, “We love chicken under a brick.” (Oct. 22, 1997)
  3. PEAR, GORGONZOLA AND MESCLUN SALAD Not my invention, but truly a ’90s classic. (Nov. 19, 1997)
  4. SPAGHETTI WITH FRIED EGGS Made this the other night; insanely easy and soothing. (March 10, 1999)
  5. BRAISED SQUID WITH ARTICHOKES Braised fish, artichokes, sometimes potatoes, always garlic and powerful olive oil; that’s Liguria. (April 28, 1999)
  6. PASTA ALLA GRICIA The basis for some of the simplest and best pasta dishes I know. (Nov. 8, 2000)
  7. PUMPKIN PANNA COTTA The headline on this Thanksgiving column said it all: “No Time for Crust? Who Needs It, Anyway?” (Nov. 22, 2000)
  8. WATERMELON AND TOMATO SALAD A Jean-Georges Vongerichten special; especially good with feta. (July 24, 2002)
  9. 45-MINUTE ROAST TURKEY Many readers swear by this one. (Nov. 20, 2002)
  10. CRISP-BRAISED DUCK LEGS WITH AROMATIC VEGETABLES This has many of the qualities of duck confit — but no fussiness. (Dec. 25, 2002)
  11. SICHUAN CHICKEN WITH CHILIES Overcook the chicken, overdo the chilies, you’ll be happy. (Sept. 3, 2003)
  12. BLACK COD BROILED WITH MISO Yes, you can do this at home. (April 14, 2004)
  13. STIR-FRIED CHICKEN WITH KETCHUP Perhaps the highest and best use of ketchup. (May 12, 2004) 
  14. CORN SALAD WITH SOY AND TOMATO Soy and tomato is a marriage made in heaven; the corn adds crunch. (Aug. 17, 2005)
  15. PARSLEY-HERB SALAD Think of parsley as a green, not an herb, and you get the idea. (Sept. 7, 2005)
  16. SOCCA (FARINATA) From my first taste of this, I’ve been an addict. Best made at home. (Oct. 19, 2005) (It's Cyn - Judy - do you remember making these for me and Jon when Boomer was a baby? It wasn't Bittman's recipe; it came from a book from Bill or someone. I remember the taste like it was yesterday. You made little ones and we got so excited we ran around the kitchen finding different toppings for them and dreaming up future tapas dinner parties that featured them. So yummy! Thanks for giving me so many of my happy food memories!)
  17. STIR-FRIED LAMB WITH CHILI, CUMIN AND GARLIC As soon as I tasted this, in Flushing, Queens, I knew I had to make it. (Sept. 20, 2006)
  18. NO-KNEAD BREAD My most popular recipe, and it isn’t even mine. Credit Jim Lahey. (Nov. 8, 2006)
  19. SCRAMBLED EGGS WITH SHRIMP I know of no dish that exploits the texture of shrimp better. (Jan. 17, 2007)
  20. PERNIL Just the other day, a guy stopped me on the subway and said, “Your pernil is terrific.” It’s not really mine, but I made it that weekend, and it is terrific. (Jan. 2, 2008)
  21. SOUTH INDIAN EGGPLANT CURRY If you are an eggplant fan, this will really turn you on. If you’re not, this will make you one. (April 2, 2008)
  22. BRAISED TURKEY Cooked this way, turkey will remind you of pork. (Nov. 12, 2008)
  23. FENNEL AND CELERY SALAD My wife’s staple. Try it with toasted hazelnuts or pine nuts. (Nov. 26, 2008)
  24. MEXICAN CHOCOLATE TOFU PUDDING What? Yes. (May 20, 2009)
  25. MORE-VEGETABLE-LESS-EGG FRITTATA Just enough eggs to hold it together. One of those transformative recipes. (July 15, 2009)
And my favourites from the last few years (in addition to many of the above):
  1. Crunchy Granola (January 9, 2009) This is my granola. Take a look - no fat is added. At all. I sploosh in a little vanilla and use a combination of pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds (I'm allergic to tree nuts). I also use agave syrup for some of the honey. But that's just how I roll. 
  2. Tomato Soup with Bread (July 17, 2009) Makes me dream of summer.
  3. Grilled Bread Salad (June 30, 2008) Pretty and delish.
  4. Grilled Halibut with Remoulade (August 27, 2008) This is my go-to remoulade recipe. (But I usually sub basil in for the tarragon. My family understands this.)
  5. Pad Thai (April 16, 2010) Easy.
  6. Popovers (December 18, 2009) The man I married loves popovers as much as I do. I am suspicious of people who don't like popovers.
  7. Rhubarb crisp (May 19, 2010) The man I married loves rhubarb as much as I do. I am suspicious of people who don't like rhubarb.
  8. Simple Chocolate Layer Cake (November 30, 2009) My eldest child does not like chocolate cake, but I am not suspicious of him. He just takes after his Auntie Christi. It's not his fault. And that means...more chocolate cake for me! Woo hoo!  :-)
  9. Free form apple or pear tart (October 10, 2008) People think you are special when you whip up one of these. But it's actually harder to make a proper pie. Go figure. (My sister is the pie maker in our family - she got the pie gene from our Granny. The secret? Cold hands!)
  10. and last but not least, Brownies (May 22, 2008) They are sublime. Serve them with fresh raspberries. That there is an order.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Your slow cooker does more than pot roast

It is cold and it is damp. And those of us in the lower mainland of British Columbia have, oh, conservatively 5 more months of this weather! OK - I exaggerate...a little.

I don't know about you but at this time of year I love my slow cooker. I can pop in a chicken or a roast, dump in some wine or stock, add some vegetables and in six to eight hours I have supper. (Now, it truly sucks that it starts to smell like supper in about 2 hours and then you have to fight the urge to start cutting chunks off to nibble on during the day, but that's a small price to pay.)

I am not alone. In recent year, slow cookers have gone through a bit of a resurgence and recipes abound on the Internet.  The kind folks at the food area of Apartment Therapy, the kitchn, have put together an outstanding list of slow cooker recipes. I mean, come on: Overnight Oatmeal with Apricots and Buttermilk, Slow-Cooked Artichokes and  Slow-Cooked Bolognese? Who can't find time to do those?

To their list, let me add:
  1. One outstanding blog - A Year of Slowcooking. Stephanie has an obsession with her slowcooker and we get the benefit of it. Up soon on a non-plant-based day, Pulled Pork with Saurkraut. Sooner, for a plant-based day, Jamaican Pumpkin Soup.
  2. A great list of links from one of our most popular magazines, Canadian Living. First up for me, the last one on the list, Three-Bean Lentil Soup. It calls for curry paste- I'm thinking about using Thai and adding in a little coconut milk.
  3. Up next is Martha Stewart. Her website has a great list of slow cooker recipes, though most involve some sort of meat or poultry. So next time I want to slow cook some chicken, I'll try Tex-Mex Chicken and Beans or Soy-Ginger Chicken.
  4. Last but clearly not least, check out the Fresh Slow Cooking blog for tons of recipes and some great pictures. On my shortlist are: Thick and Creamy Tomato Soup, Butternut Squash and Leek Stew, Leek and Potato Soup, Spicy Cauliflower and Parsnip Soup, and Buffalo Pulled Chicken.
Happy slow cooking. And don't sneak any bits before it's done - especially if it's chicken!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Monday's recipe links - recipes for ten superfoods

As discussed over in my main blog, today I'm going to feature links to recipes that highlight this list of ten superfoods.

  1. Walnut Oil - Asparagus Salad with Walnut Oil Vinaigrette from Emeril's show on the Food Network.
  2. Quinoa - How to make a basic quinoa salad, without a recipe!, from Chow. Lots of common sense advice for dealing with an uncommon grain.
  3. Black beans - Rick Bayless' black bean soup. A sweet guy and a fantastic chef.
  4. Sweet potatoes - Chili-bathed sweet potatoes Another Rick Bayless recipe but this time adapted by another favourite cookbook author, Martha Rose Shulman. Note: for some of you, you may be asked to log in to the NY Times website to be able to see this recipe. :-(  Because I don't want you to have to jump through that hoop, I've copied it down below. But please do feel free to visit the NY Times website - they have lots of lovely information. :-)
  5. Cabbage - Vegetarian cabbage rolls from Canadian Living. Sub in brown rice for the white - you won't taste the difference but your body will thank you.
  6. Oats - Overnight oatmeal, cooked in a slow cooker. Eating Well Magazine.
  7. Flax seeds - Flax and sunflower seed bread made in a bread maker (do you still know where yours is?). Tip - use flax seed meal (pre-ground flax) or grind your own before adding it to the recipe otherwise you won't get any of the nutritional benefits. From All Recipes.
  8. Avocado - Avocado soup from Style at Home.
  9.  Kale - Baked crispy kale from Steamy Kitchen. Think potato chips baked in the oven, only with kale!
  10.  Strawberries - Strawberry salad from Nest and Sparkle (but please, wait till they're in season before trying this recipe!). This one has mint, goat cheese and pumpkin seeds. Yum.
Chili-Bathed Sweet Potatoes
by Martha Rose Shulman 
Published in the NY Times, January 24, 2011 
Rick Bayless offers a wonderful recipe for sweet potatoes glazed with an ancho chili paste in “Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen.” Instead of making the paste, I make a thinner glaze with canned chipotle and some of the adobo they’re packed in. The glaze makes a spicy contrast to the sweet potatoes.

2 garlic cloves, green shoots removed
Salt to taste
2 chipotle chilies in adobo, seeded
2 tablespoons adobo sauce from the chilies
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground cloves (1 clove)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup chicken broth or water
1 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon finely chopped orange zest
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 large sweet potatoes (about 3 pounds), scrubbed
Chopped cilantro for garnish (optional)
Note: Sweet potatoes may be labeled as yams. Look for dark orange flesh.
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 2-quart baking dish. Place the garlic, salt, chipotles and adobo sauce, cinnamon, cloves, pepper, broth, orange juice and honey in a blender. Blend until smooth. Strain into a large, wide bowl, and stir in the orange zest.
2. Cut the sweet potatoes in half lengthwise, then cut each half into 4-inch lengths. If the sweet potatoes are fat, cut the pieces in half lengthwise into wedges. Add to the bowl, and toss with the adobo mixture until coated. Transfer to the baking dish, then pour on the liquid from the bowl. Drizzle on the oil, and cover tightly with foil.
3. Bake 45 minutes in the preheated oven until tender. Raise the heat to 425 degrees, uncover the sweet potatoes and baste with the liquid in the pan. Continue to bake, uncovered, until the sweet potatoes are thoroughly tender and glazed and any sauce remaining in the pan is thick. Garnish with cilantro and serve.
Yield: Serves six.
Advance preparation: You can make this dish several hours ahead of serving and reheat in a medium oven. You can assemble the dish through Step 2 several hours before you bake it.
Nutritional information per serving: 269 calories; 5 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 0 milligrams cholesterol; 52 grams carbohydrates; 7 grams dietary fiber; 262 milligrams sodium (does not include salt to taste); 4 grams protein

    Friday, January 21, 2011

    Cauliflower Couscous under Moroccan Lamb

    Yesterday I posted about Chris Kimball's appearance on the Today Show. Today, I'm back to the same show only I'm highlighting two recipes prepared by Ben Ford of  Ford's Filling Station in Culver City, California: Moroccan Lamb with Cauliflower Couscous.

    But I would call it Cauliflower Couscous under Moroccan Lamb. Why? I don't actually like lamb. I can honestly say that even though I keep trying to like it I have only enjoyed it twice. There's something about the grassy smell that just puts me off. But for this recipe, I'm willing to give it another shot (or I might make it with chicken thighs). What I am really excited about is the Cauliflower Couscous. I love cauliflower. I love couscous. So it's a no-brainer that I would love the idea of turning cauliflower into couscous as a way to substitute a vegetable for a refined starch in a meal. If this works, I may never go back to conventional couscous as a base for Middle Eastern dishes in my kitchen. Think the kids would go for it?


    Moroccan lamb

    Ben Ford
    • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
    • 2 1/2 pounds lamb shoulder or boneless chuck roast, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
    • 2 cups chopped onions
    • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
    • 1 tablespoon garam masala
    • 1 tablespoon paprika
    • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
    • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • 1 cup dry red wine
    • 1/2 cup dry Sherry
    • 2 cups beef stock
    • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes in juice
    • 1 1/2 cups golden raisins
    1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Sprinkle meat with salt and pepper.
    2. Add meat to pot; sauté until just slightly pink, about 5 minutes. Transfer meat to bowl.
    3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in same pot. Add onions; sauté until brown, about 8 minutes.
    4. Add garlic and spices and stir 1 minute.
    5. Add wine and Sherry; boil until reduced to glaze, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes.
    6. Add broth, tomatoes with juice, and raisins; stir to blend.
    7. Add lamb and accumulated juices; bring to simmer.
    8. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer uncovered until sauce is thick and lamb is tender, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour 15 minutes.
    9. Season stew with salt and pepper. (Can be made 2 days ahead.)
    Serves 6

    Cauliflower couscous

    Ben Ford
    • 2 tablespoon olive oil
    • 2 teaspoon cumin seeds
    • 2 teaspoon ground turmeric
    • 1 large yellow onions, diced
    • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
    • 3 whole cauliflower, shaved (save stalks, they make a good soup)
    • 2 sweet red peppers, roasted and diced
    • 2 Jalapeño peppers, roasted and diced
    • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
    • 1 tablespoon mint, finely sliced
    • 1 tablespoon basil, finely sliced
    • 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
    • 1 tablespoon butter to finish.
    • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
    1. Shave the cauliflower florets with a knife. The smaller the better since it will help us avoid having to over work the cauliflower in the processor to get a consistent size that resembles couscous, the grain.
    2. Heat the oil in a large skillet.
    3. Add the spices and gently heat until the mustard seeds pop.
    4. Add the onion and garlic and let them soften.
    5. Add the cauliflower and diced peppers to the onion.
    6. Cover and allow to steam until tender — 5 minutes or so.
    7. Finish with butter, mint, basil, parsley, kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper.

    Thursday, January 20, 2011

    Chris Kimball's Greek-Style Skillet Shrimp with Feta

    This morning on the Today Show, Cook's Illustrated Chris Kimball cooked an easy dish that is easily adaptable to a breast cancer or other plant-based diet. Here's a link complete with video of Chris preparing the dish (and two other skillet dishes: lasagna and apple crisp) - Today Show.

    To adapt it for a slightly healthier profile, I would serve with brown rice or whole wheat pasta. You could also add additional vegetables like carrots and chopped kale or spinach. If you are adding greens, just do it once the other vegetables have started to soften since they won't take as long to cook. You could also substitute water or stock for the wine! See how helpful I am!


    Recipe: Greek-style shrimp with tomatoes and feta

    Chris Kimball, Cook's Illustrated (Sept. 1, 2010)
    • 1 1/2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails left on, if desired (see note)
    • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • 3 tablespoons ouzo (see note)
    • 5 medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 5 teaspoons)
    • 1 teaspoon grated zest from 1 lemon
    • Table salt and ground black pepper
    • 1 small onion, diced medium (about 3/4 cup)
    • 1/2 medium red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced medium
    • 1/2 medium green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced medium
    • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
    • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomato, drained, 1/3 cup juices reserved (see note)
    • 1/4 cup dry white wine
    • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh parsley leaves
    • 6 ounces feta cheese , crumbled
    • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill leaves
    This recipe works equally well with jumbo (16 to 20 per pound) or extra-large (21 to 25 per pound) shrimp, but the cooking times in step 3 will vary slightly depending on which you use. Serve the shrimp with crusty bread or steamed white rice (but see my notes above - you really should try it with brown rice! Just give yourself the 45 minutes it takes to cook instead of the 15 for white).
    1. Toss shrimp, 1 tablespoon oil, 1 tablespoon ouzo, 1 teaspoon garlic, lemon zest, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper in small bowl until well combined. Set aside while preparing sauce.
    2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in 12-inch skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, red and green bell pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and stir to combine. Cover skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables release their moisture, 3 to 5 minutes. Uncover and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until moisture cooks off and vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes longer. Add remaining 4 teaspoons garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes and reserved juice, wine, and remaining 2 tablespoons ouzo; increase heat to medium-high and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until flavors have melded and sauce is slightly thickened (sauce should not be completely dry), 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper.
    3. Reduce heat to medium-low and add shrimp along with any accumulated liquid to pan; stir to coat and distribute evenly. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until shrimp are opaque throughout, 6 to 9 minutes for extra-large or 7 to 11 minutes for jumbo, adjusting heat as needed to maintain bare simmer. Remove pan from heat and sprinkle evenly with feta. Drizzle remaining tablespoon oil evenly over top and sprinkle with dill. Serve immediately.
    Serving Size
    Serves 4 to 6

    Wednesday, January 19, 2011

    The Best Macaroni and Cheese I Have Ever Made

    There are two groups of people: those that divide the world into two groups and those that don't. I fall into the first. So there are also two other groups of people: those that like tomatoes in their macaroni and cheese and those that think you have to be out of your frickin' mind. I am in the former. My kids, sadly, the latter. So, I kept making the same macaroni hoping, one day, my kids would learn to love tomatoes, in some form other than ketchup, with their macaroni.

    Then I hit upon the solution: serve the tomatoes on the side. Not only do you get to have that great acidic hit of cooked tomato with the gooey cheese, but by adding a hint of spice to the tomatoes via red chili flakes, I can add the zip that my children are not yet ready for in their mac and cheese. 

    This brainwave occurred to me courtesy of my sister (the source of many of my brainwaves, truth be told). She had recently adapted a recipe for Pasta with Eggplant-Tomato Relish in the January/February 2011 issue of Everyday Food. By omitting the eggplant, she had found an easy way to make up a richly flavoured tomato sauce for tossing with pasta or, in her case, serving with Chicken Parmesan. That day she told me was the day I found the solution to my boring macaroni.

    She and I both used oregano, but the original dish calls for cumin. I think you could make a lovely Mexican style one with cumin and turmeric, especially if you stirred in  a bunch of chopped cilantro and some diced red onion at the end.

    Macaroni and Cheese with Spicy Tomato Jam

    Ingredients for the macaroni and cheese:

    1 (8 ounce) package macaroni
    4 tablespoons butter
    4 tablespoons flour
    1 cup milk
    1 cup cream
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    fresh ground black pepper, to taste
    2 cups good quality cheddar cheese (or a combination of  cheddar with other cheeses you like, such as gruyere, swiss, parmesan,or jack), shredded
    1/2 cup breadcrumbs (I used panko)
    2 or 3 tablespoons butter in knobs (optional)

    1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Cook and drain macaroni according to package directions; set aside.
    2. In a large saucepan melt butter. Add flour mixed with salt and pepper, using a whisk until well blended. Pour in milk and cream gradually, stirring constantly. Bring to boil and boil 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and cook, stirring constantly, 10 minutes. Add shredded cheddar little by little and simmer an additional 5 minutes, or until cheese melts. Turn off the heat. Add macaroni to the saucepan and toss to coat with the cheese sauce.
    3. Transfer macaroni to a buttered baking dish. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and butter if you are using it. Bake 20 minutes until the top is golden brown.
    Ingredients for the spicy tomato jam:

    1 28 ounce can whole tomatoes
    1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    2 garlic cloves, unpeeled
    red pepper flakes, to taste (remember, you can add more later but you can't take them out)
    1/2 teaspoon dried or 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh oregano
    salt and pepper, to taste

    1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees (or use the 400 degree oven and cook it with the macaroni - just do it for a little longer)
    2. Toss all ingredients together in a ceramic or glass baking dish and put in oven.
    3. Roast until most of the liquid has evaporated, stirring occasionally.
    4. Squeeze garlic out of skins and chop or mash and then add back to the sauce.
    5. Adjust for salt and pepper if necessary.
    6.  Serve with macaroni.
    Serves 4 to 6.

    Note: The day after I made this dish I was paging through my new Pink Ribbon Diet book and found a very similar recipe for Roasted Canned Tomatoes. It uses a bit more olive oil and roasts for longer at 425, about 55 minutes.

    Feedback from eaters: "Mom, this is great. Two thumbs up." "God, this is fantastic."

    Monday, January 17, 2011

    Monday recipe links

    In the interest of sharing the love, I am now devoting blog space here on my recipe site to sharing the fantastic recipes I have been drooling over on the weekends. :-) I hope to make this a weekly thing, just like my health links on my other site.

    To make it in my list, the dishes have to be yummy and good for you. Seriously. I'm looking for whole grains, dark leafy greens, fibre, lean proteins, beta carotene, get the picture. Bonus points for anything that is quick and easy. Anything not suited up and ready to fight on your behalf in your anti-disease fight will only be included in this blog if I think it holds some wonderful mental health benefits. :-) So there will be a smattering of crème brulée, apple pie and chocolate. (Some weekends, you could find that on my face.)
    1. Chard and white bean stew from the Smitten Kitchen.
    2. Split pea soup with country ham from Orangette.
    3. New Year Noodle Soup from 101 Cookbooks.
    4.  Editors' Picks in the Lentil Recipe Contest at Food52.
    5. Multigrain Starter Bread from Clotilde at Chocolate and Zucchini.
    6. Cauliflower Soup from The Wednesday Chef.
    7. Warm Red Cabbage Slaw with Apple and Caraway Seed from Pinch My Salt.
    8. Chipotle-Lime Chicken Thighs from Saucy & Bossy. Note: add in the carrots they have omitted (or sweet potato) and serve on brown rice and you have a nice healthy meal. Plus, it's made in a slow cooker, so it's easy. This might be one to try if you are in the midst of chemo - sometimes spicy food is more appealing than bland when your taste buds are screwed up.
    9. And what I am having for breakfast this morning, bircher-muesli. Over 25 years ago, my friend Melisa introduced me to bircher-muesli at the Swiss Pastry Shop in Kamloops, BC, where we grew up, and from the first taste I was hooked (I also got hooked on their Whisky Truffles but that's another story). I add, of course, flax seed and wheat germ to mine. :-)

    Saturday, January 15, 2011

    More Muffins?

    I'm not sure these are even that healthy. If someone wants to do a nutritional breakdown for me, I 'd love to include the information here.

    What these are are yummy and fast. So fast, in fact, that I whipped up a batch of them Wednesday, Thursday and Friday morning, before school! Wednesday we did Blueberry Muffins, Thursday Blueberry-Raspberry and Friday (I finally got smart and mixed the dry ingredients together the night before) Blueberry-Raspberry-Blackberry. (We're spoiled here in the lower mainland of BC - every summer the guys and I go blackberry picking on backroads and along unused railway lines so our freezer is always full of free berries.)

    The recipe is Mark Bittman's. Of course it is! :-) He calls it Muffins, Infinite Ways. Click on the link and you'll see his lovely photos and be able to read some of the infinite ways you can adjust this recipe. What follows is how I prepared them with berries.

    Note: If you are using frozen berries (and since it's winter time unless you live someplace hot you should be using frozen!), don't thaw them before adding them. That will make a gooey mess.

    Cyn's Version of Mark Bittman's Muffins, the Berry Way

    Makes: 9 large muffins
    Time:  About 40 minutes - less if you are going like stink to get them done before you have to leave the house for school - more if you haven't had your coffee yet.

    • 3 tablespoons melted butter or neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn, plus more for the muffin tin
    • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 cup cornmeal
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • 3 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1 egg
    • 1 cup milk, plus more if needed 
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 1 cup berries (any combination, fresh or frozen)
    • grated lemon zest (optional)
    1. Heat the oven to 375°F. Grease 9 cups of a 12-cup muffin tin and line them with paper or foil muffin cups if you like (I didn't).
    2. Mix together the dry ingredients in a bowl. Beat together the egg, milk, vanilla, and melted butter or oil in another bowl. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into it. Using a large spoon or rubber spatula, combine the ingredients swiftly, stirring and folding rather than beating and stopping as soon as all the dry ingredients are moistened. The batter should be lumpy, not smooth, and thick but quite moist; add a little more milk or other liquid if necessary.
    3. Fold in the berries and lemon zest, if using, gently.
    4. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins, filling them almost to the top. Pour 1/4 cup water into the empty cups. Bake for 20 -30 minutes or until nicely browned and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Note: I have a hot oven and even when I adjust the temperature, these puppies are done in about 20 minutes so I set the timer for the low end and check with a toothpick every time.) Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before taking them out of the tin. Serve warm.
    Notes from the eaters:
    They rise beautifully. I bet you could add some toasted wheat germ or corn bran. I'm going to try that next time. My easy to please boy loves these. The less easy to please boy pronounced the Blueberry-Raspberry variation the best, with plain Blueberry coming in a close second.

    Enjoy! I'll add photos next week when I make the next batch.

    Monday, January 10, 2011

    The first dinner on our new plant-based diet - shrimp?

    Shrimp are plants right? OK - of course not. But tonight I was cruising around the Internet looking for inspiration for supper and shrimp were going to form an important component. They were on the counter and on their way to being thawed, and well, there you have it. Well that and I thought the kids would probably eat them.

    So I headed over to Mark Bittman's website because lately he is all about being "less-meatarian." I love that word-meatarian. How about baconarian? Poutinarian? Manhattanarian?  Sorry, I digress. He has written the great new book Food Matters and has just released the companion cookbook, The Food Matters Cookbook (of course). If you are new to Bittman and his evolving approach to food, here's a link to his website where he details the reasons for his own shift towards a more-plant based diet.

    But until I can get my mitts on his new cookbook, I'm going to have to troll his website for some doable recipes. First up tonight, Simplest and Best Shrimp Dish. OK - not exactly plant-based. But my idea was to make some rice, top it with the shrimp and then serve up roasted sweet potatoes and roasted broccoli as sides. Big heaping portions of vegetables, smaller than normal portions of rice and shrimp. And let me tell you, it was yummy and beautiful. A welcome way to start our new veggiecentric diet. Hmm, I'll have to keep working on that one.

    I was cooking for two spice-averse boys in addition to their dad and me, so I switched in sweet paprika for the hot variety he calls for. I passed hot sauce at the table, but we didn't need it. It was great as is. Next time, though, I'll do the hot version. Or, hold the phone, smoked hot paprika.

    Thanks, Mark!

    Mark Bittman's Simplest and Best Shrimp Dish

    Cyn's New Favourite Simplest and Best Shrimp Dish 
    (adapted from Mark Bittman's Simplest and Best Shrimp Dish)

    1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
    3 big cloves garlic, cut into slivers
    About 450 grams large shrimp or prawns, peeled, rinsed, and dried
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    1 teaspoon ground cumin
    1 1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika
    Chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish

    1. Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over low heat. There should be enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Add the garlic and cook until it turns golden, a few minutes.
    2. Raise the heat to medium-high and add the shrimp, salt, pepper, cumin, and paprika. Stir to blend and cook, turning the shrimp occasionally until the shrimp are pink all over and the mixture is bubbly, 5 to 10 minutes. Garnish and serve immediately over rice, pasta or a big heaping pile of steamed or roasted broccoli.

    Serves 4.