Sunday, February 27, 2011

Monday's recipe links

Soup. I love soup. Especially on a day like today where there is slush melting in the driveway and water dripping off the eaves. Did I mention the wind and the frigid air? OK - I need some soup.

  1. Rapini, leek and rice soup from Coconut and Lime.
  2. Potato, leek and cauliflower soup, also from Coconut and Lime.
  3. Soupe au pistou from David Lebovitz.
  4. Celery root soup, also from David Lebovitz.
  5. Butternut squash apple soup from A Cozy Kitchen.
  6. White bean chowder from A Communal Table.
  7. Coconut red lentil soup from 101 Cookbooks.
  8. Cauliflower soup with gorgonzola, also from 101 Cookbooks.
  9. Armenian apricot soup, also from 101 Cookbooks. Sorry, she really knows her soup.
  10. Real mushroom soup from Jamie Oliver.

    Friday, February 25, 2011

    No way - these recipes look too yummy to be healthy

    I got my new issue of Eating Well magazine today and I was shocked at the number of recipes I couldn`t wait to try. Wow, how times have changed. Before I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I tended to associate health food magazines with boring articles and brown rice. And kombu, fermented bean pastes and, of course, tofu. And weird goddess drawings. Now, I look at them and am shocked by the plethora of beautiful pictures and interesting recipes...when did they change? Funny what the fear of death does to one's perception. :-)

    After half an hour or so of bookmarking recipes, I thought I should share. The common element is simply this - I would try this recipe even if I wasn't eating like my life depended on it. Now, I will warn you, there are many references to brown rice...but if you want to substitute white rice now and then, I won't tell. (But honestly, if you didn't know it was better for you - and if it didn't take so much longer to cook - wouldn't you choose it over white some of the time?)

    I'm going to pour myself a glass of wine and try a couple of these out! I might even make some brown rice.
    1. Balsamic and parmesan roasted cauliflower
    2. Leek, potato and spinach stew (OK this isn't an exciting recipe for everyone, but I have always loved leeks and potatoes together - and this one gets great reviews)
    3. Brothy Chinese noodles
    4. Elise's sesame noodles
    5. Grilled salmon with tomatoes and basil
    6. Shrimp saganaki
    7. Chicken sausage with potatoes and sauerkraut
    8. Thai chicken mango stir-fry
    9. Seared steaks with caramelized onions and gorgonzola 
    10. Oven sweet potato fries or spicier chile-garlic roasted sweet potatoes
    11. Layered mashed potato and mushroom casserole
    12. Swirled cheesecake brownies

    Thursday, February 24, 2011

    Sorry for the blackout

    As I have noted over on my main blog, I am not out of town or in a funk. I am just having trouble posting because of my wacky computer. We hope to be back up to speed in a jiff.


    Monday, February 21, 2011

    Monday's recipe links

    This week, a bunch of great winter, plant-based recipes. Many of them are associated with the Meatless Monday`s movement where you give up meat on just this one day. Baby steps right? Do me a favour, try one, just one, of these dishes this week.
    1. Stir fried lentils, mushrooms and caramelized onions. Mark Bittman.
    2. Black bean chili with butternut squash. Bonne Appetit via Epicurious.
    3. Broccoli soup with leeks and thyme. Easy peasy. Also Bonne Appetit via Epicurious.
    4. Green bean salad with pickled red onions and fried almonds. Smitten Kitchen.
    5. Spaghetti with braised kale from The Kitchen Sink Recipes. Adapted from a Molly Wizenberg recipe for Bon Appetit.
    6. Sweet potato with warm black bean salad as part of Meatless Mondays at Eating Well magazine.
    7. Crockpot Mexican chili. Ridiculously easy. I would serve it with some cheese, low-fat sour cream and diced avocado at the table. From the Meatless Mondays website.
    8. Broccoli soup with quinoa and basil oil, halfway down the page in an article on the Meatless Mondays movement in the Star Telegram. Just remember to wash your quinoa before adding it; they neglect that in the directions and you will end up with bitter soup if you don`t.
    9. One pot kale and quinoa pilaf from food52. It also has goat cheese, walnut oil and toasted pine nuts. Yum. I`ll leave out the walnut oil (but those of you without a nut allergy, enjoy!).
    10. Finally, not entirely plant-based but because I am always on the lookout for a new and better way to roast a chicken, a gorgeous recipe that incorporates lots of veggies (parsnips, carrots, fennel and fingerling potatoes as well as onions). Lemon and onion roast chicken also from food52.

    Wednesday, February 16, 2011

    I think you'll love kale

    A little while back, I shared a list of ten super foods and number 9 was kale. It wasn't until recently that I discovered how much I loved kale - for the longest time I just lumped it in with all the other dark green leafy vegetables that can be a little, well, strongly flavoured. I recently read an article from a like-minded individual who said if you like spinach (and I do) you will like kale because it isn't bitter at all, but sweet and mild. You don't even need to load it up with butter, bacon or garlic. It is lovely (yes, I used the word lovely) on its own or added to other dishes. Lately I have been adding it to soups and stews and sauteing it quickly before using it to top a baked potato. Favourite new use? Julienned and layered between roasted tomatoes and shredded mozzarella on a thin crust pizza.

    Sorry - do I need to mention again that it is a full-out, cape wearing anti-cancer super-veg? Give it a shot and start adding it to your regular vegetable rotation (it kicks zucchini's butt).
    1.  365 Days of Kale is the blog of Diana Dyer, wife, mom, dietitian and cancer survivor. She knows kale. Recently, she was asked what her favourite recipes were and these are the ones she makes again and again: Garlic Kale Sweet Potato Soup, Kale Chips, Spicy Lentil Kale Sweet Potato Patties, Kale 3-Bean Salad and Garlic Scape Kale Pesto
    2. I've written about kale chips before, and included Diana's above, but next I'm going to try this recipe from Chow - lemon kale chips.
    3. Kale and apple salad with molasses vinaigrette and lovely sugared pecans. How pretty is that? I can't do pecans though (nut allergy) but I may try it with sugared pumpkin seeds. Won't have the lovely contrast that the shiny, caramel-brown nuts would against the dark green kale, but it beats anaphylaxis shock. From Design Sponge.
    4. Roasted kale greens tossed with a champagne vinaigrette. An elegant side to salmon or stuffed chicken breasts. From the Baltimore Chop.
    5. Here's a great collection from Canadian Living magazine, including: lemon kale with chickpeas, kale and pancetta quiche,  and gemelli with kale, sage and potatoes.
    6. Kale and cheddar gratin, looks yummy and is nice way to make kale more accessible for people who are still getting used to the idea of eating greens! Plus, as an added bonus it has a hit of turmeric in it - feel free to increase it.
    Have a great day!

    Tuesday, February 15, 2011

    Learn more about food at Cooking Up a Story

    If you are interested in the food you eat (and if you aren't, shame on you) you will find a great resource in Cooking Up a Story (CUpS), an online television series and blog about people, food, and sustainable living.The site provides an easy to navigate collection of short form videos on America's food system. The videos are organized into 7 shows: Food Stories, Food News, Growing Food, Cooking Fresh, Small Bites and CUpS Talks (think TED Talks about food). You will find original documentaries on farmers, ranchers, food artisans, and others involved in the sustainable food movement. Come here to get informed about the science, politics and culture of food, growing your own food, and cooking what you reap. 

    Interested in a sampling? Click on the links to learn more about food swaps, making cheese at home, cake decorating with fondant, barbecuing championship ribs, designing thermal banking greenhouses, open pollination, and the high cost of cheap food.

    Monday, February 14, 2011

    Monday's recipe links

    Happy Valentine's Day! If you are cooking for someone you love tonight, you might be looking for some spectacular recipe right about now. In the interest of giving you some healthy options, I thought I'd share what I have been looking at as I make finale plans for my own supper with my three guys tonight.
    1. Eating Well magazine has put together a great list of healthy, impressive recipes.
    2. Heart healthy recipes from Everyday Food magazine. The baked beet chips are beautiful - not sure the kids would go for them, though.
    3. Still with Martha but this time it's her tv show, another heart healthy meal. This one features a really lovely looking tuna recipe.
    4. Gluten-free Valentine's recipes from Elana's Pantry. Lots of lovely little nibbles for those of you who have broken up with flour.
    5. But I'm tired and Jon is off to play Ultimate tonight - so I'm going to fall back on a sentimental favourite - heart shaped pizzas (what Jon and I had on the snowbound at home Valentine's Day he proposed to me). This Fine Cooking recipe for pizza dough in the food processor is great - I do 1/3 whole wheat flour. Add slow roasted tomato sauce (cooling on the counter), really good mozza (trip to store) and some fresh basil (trip to store) plus a salad on the side and you don't need much else. OK - and a nice bubbly.
    Hope you all have a wonderful day.

    Friday, February 11, 2011

    Reject fastfood and get back in the kitchen with Cookstr

    A lot of us are having trouble cooking meals at home these days. Work, kids...ok, this is nuts, you know why you are busy. But the solution to this does not need to be eating fast food.

    If you have or had cancer, are caring for someone going through treatment, or just want to have a long healthy life, eating well is an important part of your defence against disease. The key to doing this is creating an environment that allows you to cook healthy meals even on the busiest days. For that you need to keep basic ingredients on hand, staples as well as the extras that you need to make your meals interesting. To figure out what those extras will be, you need to start gathering together recipes.

    A lot of us already have a few favourite recipe websites. Epicurious has long been at the top of my list. But I have found a new one - Cookstr. This new site does on the web what I do at the library. Basically, they take cookbooks by both established and up-and-coming chefs and authors and pull out the recipes you would want to try if you were paging through them. The result is a huge supply of recipes from a wide range of cuisines, just a click away.

    In celebration of my new find I am going to share the love. Below are what I pulled out doing a quick scan for quick, reasonably healthy recipes. Any of these dishes can be prepared with a reasonably well-stocked fridge and cupboard in less time than it takes to order in or drive-thru. Honestly.

    1. Jamie Oliver's Classic Tomato Spaghetti from his Food Revolution cookbook. Fast and yummy. Plus once you get the hang of this technique, the possibilities for tweaking it are almost endless. Jamie offers some suggestions around shrimp, tuna, and peas. You could also add sauteed peppers, mushrooms or zucchini, pesto, olives, smoked salmon or sliced turkey sausage.
    2. Another pasta, 'cause pasta is quick! This one is Linguine with Bacon and Onions (i.e. Carbonara) from Lidia Bastianich's cookbook Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen. If you find slab bacon, buy extra and store it, in portions this size, in your freezer. It also works with thick cut bacon from the grocery store. But again, if you freeze it in portions about this size, it is faster than thawing the whole package (and you don't end up with a big chunk of bacon in the fridge that you might be tempted by later in the week!). Make it healthier - use whole wheat pasta. Or, serve a smaller portion with a big side salad or steamed broccoli.
    3. Nigella Lawson's Chicken Noodle Soup from Nigella Express. Next time you're shopping, buy some udon noodles to keep in the fridge and you can whip this up in a blink. Thaw the chicken breast in the fridge during the day and customize based on the vegetables you have. Another great Nigella recipe - Curry in a Hurry. The secret is a good stash of frozen vegetables, and canned curry paste and coconut milk. Holy crap - I need to go buy some chicken thighs - I'm making this tonight with my frozen kale! :-)
    4. When the weather warms up, try Rick Bayless' Ceviche Salad with Avocado, Cilantro and Green Chile from Mexican Everyday. Use salmon, tuna, snapper or shrimp that you have either picked up at the fish market on the way home (if you are so blessed like we are in my neck of the woods) or thawed in the fridge during the day. It goes together very quickly, way faster than stopping for takeout!
    5. Ellie Krieger's Garlic Basil Shrimp from her cookbook So Easy. Make this even easier and keep peeled and deveined shrimp in the freezer ready to thaw quickly in a colander under running water. If you don't have fresh basil, a swirl of pesto will do the trick.
    6. As an alternative to McDonalds, Nutricious Nuggets from Mom-a-licious author Domenica Catelli. Not far off how I make mine, with the addition of brewer's yeast. Blend a wee bit of dijon in with a scoop of mayo and a dollop of honey, or stir a bit of garlic into some yogurt with a bit of dill and you have quick dipping sauces. Or, honestly, just squirt a big ol puddle of ketchup on their plates and let them attack.
    7. Finally pizza. Normally I would give you a good pizza dough recipe here, but I found a very cool alternative from one of my all-time favourite chefs, Jacques Pepin. His Margherita Pizza from Chez Jacques is made on...tortillas! You could also use other flatbreads - keep a couple of packages of naan or pita in the freezer, or tortillas, and you could have supper on the table in 12 minutes.
    Happy cooking!

    Thursday, February 10, 2011

    Hope for the future of food production

    In recent years, we have been reading increasingly scary news about the future of our food production system. Suddenly I am not so fearful for our future.  Click here to see Birke Baehr speak on this topic at Ted Talks.

    Please watch this. Did I mention, Birke is 11?

    Those of you on Facebook can follow Birke there.

    Monday, February 7, 2011

    Monday's recipe links - today's feature: quinoa

    Today I bring you all things quinoa! There must be something here to make you want to start adding this super food to your diet.
    1. A good basic recipe for preparing quinoa including instructions on washing it. Always wash your quinoa before cooking it to remove its bitter coating.
    2. Beets, spiced quinoa and yogurt. The New York Times. 
    3. Delicious big bowl. Quinoa mixed with potatoes, walnuts, asparagus and onion. 101 Cookbooks.
    4. Quinoa stir fry with kale, chili and nuts from UK food writer Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. The Guardian.
    5. Tricolour quinoa featuring goat cheese, pine nuts, cherry and sun-dried tomatoes, basil and parmesan. Pretty! Canadian Living.
    6. What I'm making this week - Black bean and tomato quinoa. Epicurious.
    7. Or maybe I'll make this - Moroccan quinoa salad. 20 Minute Supper Club.
    8. Quinoa and turkey patties in pita with tahini sauce. Martha Stewart.
    9. A great quinoa cookbook - Quinoa 365: The Everyday Superfood.
    10. Lastly - a story on the impact of the growth of quinoa's popularity on Boliva.The article also links to the below recipes. NPR. 

    Sunday, February 6, 2011

    Mollie Katzen's Chilaquile Casserole

    The Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen was my second vegetarian cookbook and my first introduction to vegetarian food as something one would make and actually look forward to. My first cookbook had lovely recipes for baba ghanouj and tofu fritters, but I cooked them mostly out of an interest in bonding with my university roommates. The Moosewood Cookbook introduced me to vegetarian dishes that made me swoon and celebrate for their, well, taste as well as their meatlessness! My next vegetarian cookbook was, naturally, Mollie Katzen's next one, Still Life with Menu. And it was this cookbook that produced the single casserole recipe I have cooked most in my life: Chilaquile Casserole.

    It is everything I look forward to in a winter dish: comforting, good for you (depending on what you add to it) and easy. The bonus with this dish is the nice warm heat you get from the chili peppers and hot sauce. You can make it your own by adding a variety of extras based on what you like or what you have in the pantry. My sister and I have experimented with the optionals over the years; I have settled on always adding cumin, garlic, black beans and some type of vegetable. Last night, it was kale, but I also tossed in some diced ham (next time, I'll saute the ham with some onions before adding them).  I am looking forward to leftovers for lunch today and, fingers crossed, tomorrow!

    Chilaquile Casserole

    • 12 corn tortillas (the small ones) or 6 flour tortillas (the large ones)
    • 1 medium chili pepper, chopped and seeded, or 1 4-ounce can of green chilies
    • 2-3 cups grated cheese - cheddar, jack or another favourite
    • 4 eggs
    • 2 cups buttermilk (see note 1)
    • salt and pepper to taste

    Optional additions:
    • cooked beans like black, pinto, white and kidney or chick peas
    • sauteed onions and/or garlic
    • sauteed diced or chopped vegetables like zucchini, carrots, mushrooms, bell pepper, leeks, kale or spinach (see note 2)
    • shredded chicken or diced ham - for a non-vegetarian version
    • diced or thinly sliced tofu
    • cumin, oregano, basil
    • hot sauce or 1 to 3 teaspoons of diced canned chipotle chili in adobo sauce
    note 1: If you don't have any buttermilk, you can add 2 tablespoons of vinegar to 2 cups of milk (minus 2 tablespoons to allow room for the vinegar). Let it sit for 5 minutes to thicken slightly and then use.
    note 2: Sauteeing does more than soften the vegetables and carmelize their flavour, it also gets rid of a lot of extra moisture. I have found that raw vegetables give off a lot of water during cooking, making it hard for the custard to set properly.

    1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
    2. Butter or oil a 2-quart casserole dish. Tear half the tortillas into bite-sized pieces and spread them evenly in the dish. Spread half the chilies and half the cheese on top. Add in any of your optional additions, if you are using them. Tear the remaining tortillas and layer them on top. Top with the remaining chilies and cheese.
    3. In a separate bowl, whisk the buttermilk and the four eggs Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour over the casserole, pulling the tortillas aside to allow the mixture to spread evenly throughout the ingredients.
    4. Bake for 35 minutes, uncovered. 
    5. Serve with sour cream or yogurt, salsa and/or guacamole. Makes a nice meal with a salad.
    Serves 4 to 6.

    Thursday, February 3, 2011


    Learning to Cook from xkcd

    Amazing how true this is even for those of us that can cook.

    Wednesday, February 2, 2011

    Bittman`s Food Manifesto for the Future

    In the New York Time`s opinion pages today, Mark Bittman has published a call to action on the state of food in the United States. If you care about your own health or that of the planet, please read it. And if you don`t, what the heck is wrong with you?

    Tuesday, February 1, 2011

    Meatless Borscht

    While I love borscht, I don't make it very often. My mother-in-law makes fantastic borscht, and it's kind of a hard act to follow. But our new plant-based diet has changed the way I look at food. If we are going to be successful with this new way of eating, we should be turning more often to vegetable dishes we love to help us miss meat less. Well, as I have already stated, I love borscht. So, here goes nothing.

    I turned to Chowtimes for my inspiration. Chowtimes is the very informative and entertaining food blog of Richmond, BC husband and wife Ben and Suanne Yap. If my husband and I want to know where to go in the lower mainland for the best dumplings or pho, this is where we look first. On top of that, they have great recipes.

    About this time last year, they posted a good basic borscht recipe without any meat. I adapted it a bit to suit my own preferences and what I had on hand. If I do say so myself, it was spectacular. The key may have been my substitution of  Trader Joe's Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar for the apple cider vinegar in the original recipe. That and an extra splash of plain champagne vinegar to cut the sweetness even more. If you don't have a Trader Joe's near you, or someone who can hook you up, a splash of orange juice with a splash of a good white wine, champagne or sherry vinegar will help give it that extra dimension.

    Meatless Borscht

    • 1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
    • 6 medium or 4 large beets, peeled and diced
    • 1 large Yukon Gold potato, peeled and diced
    •  large carrot, peeled and diced
    • 3 - 5 cups finely chopped red or green cabbage
    • 2 small or 1 large onion, chopped
    • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock (I used diluted chicken bouillon)
    • 2 cups water
    • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
    • 2 tablespoons Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar plus an extra splash of a plain, champagne or other, vinegar
    • salt, pepper and sugar to taste
    • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill or dry dill to taste
    • low fat sour cream or plain yogurt, optional
    1. Heat oil in a heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add beets, potatoes, carrot, cabbage and onion and saute until cabbage softens, about 5 minutes.
    2. Add stock, water and tomato paste. Reduce heat to medium low and cook 30 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Stir often.
    3. Add vinegar, salt, pepper, sugar and dill to taste.
    4. Serve hot with an optional dollop of sour cream or yogurt. 
    Serves 6.