Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What We'll Be Drinking This NYE!


In mid-November we hosted a wine tasting in our home for a group of our friends, where we were introduced to this sparkling wine that is made in the traditional method (in other words it isn't just carbonated like many cheaper brands, but rather the carbonation is produced through patience and a time honoured tradition of fermentation), by David Calados of "Global Wine Tour". We were all amazed at this sparkling wine because it ranks with any expensive bottle of champagne, but is only $23/bottle...and best of all it is made in Niagara-On-The-Lake by Chateau des Charmes.

We ordered a case of 6 and intend to toast the arrival of 2010 with a few bottles! If you're interested in trying something new and fairly local, check this one out online. It's a VQA but you wont' find it in the LCBO ~ go to the website http://www.chateaudescharmes.com/... you won't be disappointed!
*BTW, for anyone that doesn't realize, only wines from the region of France, north of Paris may be labelled "Champagne"...since it is a premium brand name that is vigorously defended, all others MUST call themselves sparkling wine!*

Monday, December 14, 2009

Pickled Coleslaw


Yet another favourite at our party and something that I tried in the summer when I received cabbage and carrots in my CSA basket! This recipe comes from Jennifer MacKenzie's book "The Complete Book of Pickling" (AKA my canning bible!!!) Even though it is a two-day process, it really isn't taxing and well worth the effort! I got 3L jars and 1 500mL jar out of this recipe.


Pickled Coleslaw
Ingredients:

DAY 1:
4 lbs green cabbage (approx. 1 head)
4 cups shredded carrots (approx. 8)
1/4 cup pickling or canning salt

DAY 2:
3 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 tbsp celery seeds
2 tbsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
5 cups cider vinegar

TO SERVE (per 500 mL of coleslaw):
1/4 cup sunflower oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard

DAY 1:
  • Cut cabbage lengthwise into 4 to 6 wedges. Cut out core. Cut each wedge crosswise into very thin slices. You should have about 22 cups.
  • In a large non-reactive bowl, combine cabbage, carrots and salt. Place a plate on top to weigh down vegetables. Cover and let stand at a cool room temperature for at least 12 hours or for up to 24 hrs.

DAY 2:

  • Prepare canner, jars and lids
  • In a colander working in batches, drain vegetables and rinse well. Drain again, squeezing out as much liquid as possible. Spread out on towel-lined baking sheets to drain any remaining water.
  • In a pot combine sugar, celery seeds, mustard seeds, pepper and vinegar. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often until sugar is dissolved. Boil for 1 minutes. Reduce heat to low and keep liquid hot.
  • Working with one jar at a time, pack vegetables into hot jars, leaving room for liquid and 1" headspace. Pour in hot pickling liquid, leaving 1/2" headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace as necessary. Wipe rim and place hot lid disc on jar. Screw band down until fingertip-tight.
  • Place jars in canner and return to a boil. Process 500mL jars for 15 mins and 1L jars for 20 minutes. Turn off heat, remove canner lid and let jars stand in water for 5 minutes. Transfer jars to a towel-lined surface and let stand for 24 hours. Check lids and refrigerate any jars that are not sealed.
  • When serving, open jar and drain coleslaw in a sieve. Transfer to serving dish. In a small bowl combine the sunflower oil and Dijon mustard and toss with coleslaw just prior to serving.

Meatballs with Pepper Sauce

Unfortunately I don't have a photo of this dish (I promise to take one the next time I make these!), but so many people requested this recipe be posted I decided to do it immediately so as not to upset my friends!!!

Meatballs with Pepper Sauce
Ingredients:
1 cup milk
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 envelope of onion soup mix
2 lbs ground beef
SAUCE:
1/2 lb sliced fresh mushrooms
1 -1 /2 cups ketchup
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup chopped green peppers
1/2 cup chopped sweet red or yellow peppers
2 tbsp chopped red onions
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • In a large bowl, combine the milk, Worcestershire sauce and soup mix. Crumble beef over mixture and mix well. Shape into 1" balls.
  • Place meatballs on a rack in a shallow baking pan and broil 4-6" from the heat for 5 to 8 minutes (or until meatballs are browned).
  • In a large pot or slow cooker on high, combine sauce ingredients. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat; add meatballs and stir gently.
  • Simmer for 1 hr or until meat is no longer pink.

Zesty Citrus & Chicken Salad


This is an extremely refreshing salad that I concocted when I found myself craving fruit and veggies for lunch today! I had some marinated feta that I made for our party on Saturday, leftover roasted chicken and a red grapefruit. These combined with baby spinach, cilantro, and a lime dressing was delicious!!!


Spinach Salad with Marinated Feta, Chicken, Graperfuit & Lime Dressing

Ingredients:

(Dressing)
3 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tbsp honey
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp sunflower oil or extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
(Salad)
1 cup baby spinach
1/2 breast of roasted chicken, slivered
6 cubes of marinated feta*
1 segmented red grapefruit
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • Whisk all salad ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.
  • Place spinach in a salad bowl, top with the slivered chicken, feta cubes and red grapefruit segments, and sprinkle the cilantro over top.
  • Drizzle the dressing over top and ENJOY!!!

* Marinated Feta:

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp oil-packed sundried tomatoes, diced
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp minced fresh chives
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 lb cubed feta cheese

Place all ingredients in a resealable plastic bag and gently toss. Place the bag in the fridge for at least 1/2 hr. Take out of the fridge at least an hour prior to serving to allow the flavours to fully develop.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Broccoli, Potato & Caramelized Onion Soup


As I was on a roll yesterday with making my leek & potato soup, I decided to use up the broccoli that has been residing in my fridge for a week! Luckily I had chopped and frozen potatoes from my CSA share into 2, 4 and 8 cup portions so it was easy to pull this soup together! This recipe comes from my favourite vegetarian cookbook: "The New Vegetarian Epicure", by Anna Thomas.

BROCCOLI, POTATO & CARAMELIZED ONION SOUP

Ingredients:
1 3/4 lbs broccoli (approx 6 cups of chopped broccoli)
3 onions, roughly diced
salt, to taste
1 tbsp olive oil
2 1 /2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 large potatoes (approx. 1 lb), peeled & diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
3 cups water
4 cups homemade vegetable stock
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 1 /2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cups 2% milk
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
Generous pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Heat the olive oil and 1 tbsp butter in a skillet, over medium heat. Add the onions and saute with a sprinkle of salt, until golden.
  • Combine the potatoes and celery in a large soup pot with the water and stock and approx. 1/2 tsp salt if needed (if it's a homemade stock you might want to as homemade stocks are never seasoned).
  • Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for approx. 10 minutes. Add the chopped broccoli and sauteed onions and simmer for another 8 to 10 minutes, until vegetables are tender.
  • Stir in the lemon juice and puree the soup either in batches in the blender, or using an immersion blender in the soup pot. Don't overprocess as the texture should be somewhat rough.
  • Melt the remaining 1 1/2 tbsp butter in a skillet and stir in the flour. Cook this roux for a few minutes, stirring constantly, till golden. Whisk in the milk and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring or whisking till it thickens. Whisk in the mustard and the cayenne and add the white sauce to the soup.
  • Bring the soup back to a simmer, taste and correct the seasonings with more salt and pepper, mustard or cayenne.
  • You can garnish the bowl with small florettes of steamed broccoli, or a swirl of sour cream!
  • ENJOY!!!

Leek & Potato Soup


With the cooler weather rapidly approaching, my mind always turns to soups (my favourite!!!) I love to make big batches of a variety of vegetable soups and then freeze them so I will always have them on hand. Cheap and cheerful...much like the person creating them ;-)

LEEK & POTATO SOUP

Ingredients:
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 leeks, washed thoroughly and chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
4 cups 1" cubed potatoes
3 3/4 cups homemade stock (I use chicken)
salt and ground black pepper
  • Heat 2 tbsp of the butter in a large pot over a medium heat. Add the leeks and onion and cook gently, for approximately 7 minutes, until they are softened.
  • Add the potatoes to the pot and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes, then add the stock and bring it to the boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook gently for 30-35 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper, and remove from heat. Chop up and stir in the remaining butter.
  • Serve hot with fresh crusty bread - YUM!!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Yummiest Mac & Cheese!


Today after my riding lesson I really felt like something filling and homemade...basically comfort food! So I decided to make my macaroni and cheese! This is not only super-easy, but kid-friendly too (I made it just the other night for Hayden, India and Devon!) There is no baking required unless you like to have the cheese form a crispy coating on the top like in the photo (then just pop it in a 350F oven for 15 mins!)
RANCH STYLE MACARONI & CHEESE
Ingredients:
1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, cubed
2 envelopes of ranch salad dressing mix
1 tsp lemon pepper seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion salt
1 cup cubed cheddar cheese
1 cup cubed mozzarella or Monterey Jack (for zip!)
1 cup sour cream
16 oz elbow macaroni, cooked until al dente
1/2 cup crushed Premium Plus crackers or panko bread crumbs
Grated cheddar and Parmesan Reggiano
  • In a large pot combine the first 8 ingredients (milk to mozzarella) over medium heat until cheese is melted and mixture begins to thicken.
  • Fold in the sour cream. Add the macaroni and crackers. Cook until heated through, stirring frequently to prevent it sticking.
  • Top with a light dusting of grated cheddar and Parmesan Reggiano cheese and either serve or put into a 350F oven until cheese has melted and is golden brown.
  • ENJOY!

Friday, October 30, 2009

The End of the Summer CSA Program


Well it has finally reached the end of the growing season - all the leaves have dropped, there is a chill in the air and all the fields have been ploughed and garlic for next year has been planted at "Cooper's CSA Farm & Maze".


It was a tough growing season with all the rain and lack of sunlight. It really made me appreciate what is involved with farming and what it must have been like before the advent of industrial farms with acres of greenhouses, and monocultures to ensure there is baby spinach available all year round. Mostly though, it made me proud to be involved with a farm that is bucking what is now considered convention, and farming in a natural and seasonal manner.


If we stop and think about it, we really shouldn't be able to obtain baby spinach all year round. It should be something special and anticipated in the early springtime, along with asparagus and tender salad greens. At this time of year, we should be enjoying the wide variety of squashes, root vegetables and cabbages & Brussels sprouts. Sadly, it seems we have become hooked on eating whatever we want, whenever we want at the expense of our health and the environment. The heat required by the expansive greenhouses to ensure the baby spinach is provided with an optimal growing temperature, not to mention the chemicals that are required to ensure that these baby greens survive packaging, shipping and storing, should far outweigh our need for them...but it doesn't usually. Out of sight, out of mind is something many of us (myself included) are often guilty of. It's not until we have an Ecoli breakout caused through contaminated water in a foreign country that we stop to consider that the baby spinach we are eating on our salad plate is produced in countries where there aren't strict regulations and growing practices, and where our demand is causing many of these to be overlooked all in the name of economy. Sadly our desire for items (not only foodstuffs) have caused the standards in many countries to slip. Faster, in greater quantities and cheaper, are what drive the economy, and we tend to forget the human and environmental factor linked to our desires.


Recently we were sent a survey from my CSA farm asking some questions regarding the past CSA season. Talking with Steve & Lisa Cooper I discovered that people were complaining that they didn't receive lettuces past the first month or so of the program! These same people complained that they were receiving potatoes (of which this year was one of the best harvest years for potatoes that Steve could remember and was really excited about), cabbage, Swiss chard, and Brussels sprouts in the later boxes. I find this astonishing and telling of the lack of education of the general populus regarding natural growing seasons, nutritious food preparation and the produce available at different times of the year, and it made me a little sad. These same people said they enjoyed the fact that they received a wide variety of vegetables in their boxes and that they appreciate that Steve & Lisa use natural and sustainable farming methods, and use no or low spray...yet these people really, when it boils down to it, just want to receive cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, and salad greens.


Perhaps instead of focussing on educating adults about nutrition and eating seasonally and locally, more emphasis should be placed on educating the young. We have become to disassociated with the land that adults are unable to pass on this valuable information to children. It's not enough to demonstrate healthy eating, it should go deeper to demonstrate responsible eating.


Get out to your local farm and rediscover what it means to truly eat locally and seasonally. Adjust your eating habits to include produce that you've never heard of before - oftentimes it is more nutritionally sound than your regular fare, and will awaken your tastebuds! If we are able to spend time online researching the latest ipod accessories, or which car we are going to buy, then we surely have time to search for methods of preparing Jerusalem artichokes, tomatillos or Swiss chard, right??

Braised Red Cabbage



Admittedly I didn't grow up eating cabbage and have only started enjoying it for about the past 5 years ~ and I've discovered that I LOVE it! Savoy is my favourite and I use it in a pasta dish quite frequently, and I love green cabbage for salad etc., but when I received a red cabbage in my CSA box I was a little flummoxed! I hadn't really used one outside of grating it into a coleslaw. So I turned to my trusty reference site http://www.recipezaar.com/ and found this simple and easy recipe that requires 5 ingredients (6 if you decide to top it with crumbled goat's cheese like I did!) and tastes fantastic! It's sweet and tart while the goat's cheese juxtaposes the slight crunch of the cabbage, perfectly!

BRAISED RED CABBAGE
Ingredients:
1 head chopped red cabbage
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup water
2 1/2 tbsp butter
2 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • Heat the white wine vinegar, water, butter and the sugar together in an ovenproof casserole dish (I used my enamelled cast iron baking dish whose lid can handle the high heat in an oven), until the sugar dissolves.
  • Add the cabbage and stir till it's coated with the vinegar mixture.
  • Cover and braise in an oven at 325F for 2 hours, stirring every half an hour or so to ensure even cooking.
  • Remove from oven, transfer to a serving and dish and crumble creamy goat's cheese over top (optional).
  • ENJOY!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Maple Tree Cake

Another one of my 'experiments' that turned out really well! I decided to make this cake for Saturday's dinner with Dave, Siobhan and the kids - it was relatively easy except for the fact that my cake pans were too large so I ran out of icing and had to press Skor pieces around the edge! A perfect fall cake as it has the woody and sweet flavour of maple syrup as well as dried fruits on top!
MAPLE TREE CAKE
Ingredients:
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups sour cream
2 tsp maple flavouring
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
Dash of salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans
FROSTING:
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup peanut butter chips (could just as easily use butterscotch)
2 tbsp dried cranberries
2 tbsp golden raisins
2 tbsp chopped dried apricots
2 tbsp chopped dried apples
  • In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar. Add sour cream and maple flavouring. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; add to sour cream mixture and mix well. Fold in pecans.
  • Pour into 2 greased and floured 9" round baking pans. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted near the centre comes out clean.
  • Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
  • For frosting, in a bowl, cream butter and confectioners' sugar. Add syrup and mix well. Spread between layers and over top and sides of cake.
  • In a microwave safe bowl, melt chocolate and peanut butter chips; stir until smooth. Transfer to a pastry or a heavy-duty reusable plastic bag; cut a small hole in the corner of the bag. Pipe a tree and branches on top of cake. Combine dried fruits and sprinkle around tree base and at ends of branches to resemble fall leaves.
  • Serve & ENJOY!


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Thanksgiving Dessert

If you are a regular reader of this blog you will already know that I am a little fearful of baking - although I absolutely adore cooking but feel anxious when it comes to baking (so much so that I am more than happy to leave it to our family master-baker, Greg!) But this Thanksgiving I decided to flex my baking muscle and made the two desserts you see in the photo above...and they were DELICIOUS (not to mention easy!!) I hope you enjoy them as well.
CINNAMON APPLE CHEESECAKE
Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup quick-cooking oats
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 pkgs (8oz each) cream cheese, softened
1 can (14oz) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup thawed apple juice concentrate
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 medium tart apples, peeled and sliced
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup thawed apple juice concentrate
  • In a small bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually add flour, oats, walnuts, and cinnamon until well-blended. Press onto the bottom and 1 1/2" up the sides of a greased 9" springform pan.
  • Place ona baking sheet. Bake at 325F for 10 minutes or until set. Cool on a wire rack.
  • In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Beat in milk and juice concentrate until smooth. Add eggs; beat on low speed just until combined (batter will be thin). Pour into crust.
  • Return pan to baking sheet. Bake at 325F for 40 - 45 minutes or until centre is almost set. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before carefully runnign a knife around edge of pan to loosen; cool 1 hour longer.
  • In a large skillet, cook and stir apples in butter over medium heat until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Arrange over cheesecake.
  • In a small saucepan, combine the cornstarch, cinnamon and juice concentrate until smooth. Bring to a boil. reduce heat; cook and stir for 1 minute, or until thickened. Immediately brush over apples.
  • Refrigerate for 1 hour or unitl chilled. Remove sides of pan and serve.

PUMPKIN MOUSSE

Ingredients:

1 medium pie pumpkin

2 tbsp sugar

3/4 tsp ground cinnamon, divided

1/3 cup vanilla or white chips

2 tbsp milk

1 pkg (3oz) cream cheese, softened

1/3 cup confectioners' sugar

1/3 cup solid pack pumpkin

1 tsp grated orange peel

1 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped to stiff peaks

  • Cut top off pumpkin; scoop out and discard seeds. In a small bowl, combine sugar and 1/2 tsp cinnamon; sprinkle inside of pumpkin. Replace pumpkin top. Place on a baking sheet. Bake at 400F for 25-30 minutes or until crisp tender. Cool on a wire rack.
  • Meanwhile, microwave vanilla chips with milk and stir until smooth. Cool to room temperature.
  • In a bowl, beat cream cheese and confectioners' sugar until smooth. Beat in the pumpkin, orange peel, reserved chocolate and remaining cinnamon. Fold in whipped cream. Remove pumpkin top. Spoon mousse into pie pumpkin and serve.

Apple Cranberry Sauce


I had torn this recipe out of my "Canadian Living" magazine back in 2005, but had never actually got to making it...so I decided this Thanksgiving was high time! We had visited "Siloam Orchards" (if you have a chance to ever visit this farm it's located northwest of Uxbridge and they grown heirloom apples, farm maple syrup and use 100% organic spray - I know because Greg doesn't go anaphalactic when he eats one!) and had a ton of apples so in place of a McIntosh, I used Honey Golds...delicious!!
This is great with turkey of course, but also equally as good with ham or chicken!
APPLE CRANBERRY SAUCE
Ingredients:
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 small onion, minced
1 pkg fresh cranberries
1 McIntosh apple, peeled and diced
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tbsp cider vinegar
1 cinnamon stick
Pinch, each, salt and pepper

  • In a saucepan, heat oil over medium heat; saute onion, stirring occasionally for 4 minutes.

  • Add cranberries, apple, brown sugar, vinegar, and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer, stirring twice, until sauce it thick enough to mound on a spoon (approximately 12 minutes).

  • Add salt and pepper. Discard cinnamon stick and serve!
This can be served either warm or room temperature! We added some to room temperature goat's cheese and had it on baguette with some smoked pheasant and it was DELICIOUS! It adds just the right amount of sweetness to either smoky or spicy flavours.

Swiss & Gruyere Breakfast Souffle


For Thanksgiving we had our friends Dave, Siobhan and their children come and stay (and now that Greg has built us a guest house, it's so much easier to accomodate guests!!) Since Sunday was going to be our big turkey dinner evening, I wanted something quick and delicious for breakfast that I could prepare ahead of time. It was SO good that I made another one this past weekend and took it to Tremblant Girls' Weekend!!
SWISS & GRUYERE BREAKFAST SOUFFLE
Ingredients:
8 to 10 slices of French loaf, torn into pieces (another nice addition would be brioche or challah!)
5 eggs
2 cups milk, divided
1/2 tsp ground mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 lb of pork sausage meat
1 can (10 3/4 oz) condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted (or 1 cup thick homemade white sauce with 1/2 cup sauteed mushrooms)
1/2 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
1/2 cup shredded Emmenthaler Swiss cheese
  • Arrange bread in an ungreased 13" x 9" baking dish. Whisk together eggs, 1 1/2 cups milk, and seasonings. Pour over the bread and set aside.
  • Meanwhile in a large skillet, cook sausage meat over medium heat until no longer pink. Drain and then spoon evenly over the bread.
  • Combine the soup with the cheeses and remaining milk, and spread evenly over the sausage.
  • Bake, uncovered at 350F for 45-50 mins, or until the top is puffed and the centre appears set. Let stand for 5 mins before serving.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Green Onion Drop Biscuits


I wanted something quick and easy to go along with our chili for dinner and I opened up the "Taste of Home Fall Baking" magazine and these delicious little gems called to me! They are beyond easy and contain items that are commonly found in your cupboard...so treat yourself and your family and make these tonight because they are beyond tasty!


GREEN ONION DROP BISCUITS

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
2 tsp granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
6 tbsp cold butter
1 egg
3/4 cup buttermilk
  • In a small bowl, combine the flour, onions, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs (I usually use my fingers instead of a knife!)

  • Combine egg and buttermilk; stir into crumb mixture just until moistened.

  • Drop by 1/4 cupfuls 2" apart onto a greased baking sheet (or line it with parchment paper or use a non-stick sheet).

  • Bake at 400F for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

  • Serve warm alongside a soup or chili or even a salad!

*If you don't have buttermilk on hand, just add 1 tbsp of lemon juice to regular 2% milk and let it sit for a few minutes. Stir and it will be thickened and tart like buttermilk! *


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Four Fabulous Fall Soups!!











When the weather starts getting cooler during the day and the leaves are tinged with yellows and reds, I start to think of soups again. Although I enjoy cold soups in the summertime, there's really nothing like a warm bowl of hearty soup with some freshly baked bread in my mind!!

I had fully stocked my freezer with chili, but my ready-to-eat soups were gone...so I pulled out my FAVOURITE soup book, "400 Best-Ever Soups" by Anne Sheasby, and got to work. I decided to use up whatever I had in my pantry, cupboards and refrigerator and found these delicious recipes that I hope you will enjoy too!
SPICED PARSNIP SOUP
Ingredients:
3 tbsp butter
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2lbs parsnips, peeled and diced
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp chili powder
5 cups vegetable stock
2/3 cup light cream
  • Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the chopped onion and parsnips and saute for approximately 3 minutes.
  • Stir in the spices and cook for 1 minute more, or until fragrant.
  • Add the stock, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
  • Cool slightly and then puree in a blender or food processor until smooth.
  • Return to the pot and add the cream, heating gently.
  • Put into bowls and garnish with fresh coriander...ENJOY!

ROASTED TOMATO & PASTA SOUP

Ingredients:

1 lb ripe Italian plum tomatoes (although I used grape tomatoes), halved lengthwise

1 large red bell pepper, sliced lengthwise and seeded

1 large red onion, quartered

2 garlic cloves

1 tbsp olive oil

5 cups vegetable stock

pinch of granulated sugar

1 cup small pasta

salt and ground pepper

  • Preheat the oven to 375F and spread out the tomatoes, garlic, onions and peppers on a roasting pan and drizzle with the olive oil. Roast for 30 to 45 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and slightly charred. Turn them halfway through the cooking time to ensure even roasting.
  • Transfer the roasted vegetables to a food processor and add 1 cup of stock. Process until pureed. Scrape into a sieve and press the puree through into a Dutch oven. Discard the solids.
  • Add the remaining stock , sugar and salt and pepper. Bring to the boil.
  • Add the pasta and simmer for 7 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently, until al dente. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
  • ENJOY

*You can roast the vegetables in advance, allow them to cool then leave them in a covered bowl in the refrigerator overnight before pureeing*

IRISH LEEK & BLUE CHEESE SOUP

Ingredients:

3 large leeks

1/4 cup butter

2 tbsp oil

4oz blue cheese (if I had Cashel blue I would have used an Irish cheese)

2 tbsp all purpose flour

1 tbsp wholegrain Irish mustard

6 1/4 cups chicken stock

ground black pepper

  • Slice the leeks thinly. Heat the butter in a large Dutch oven and add the oil. Gently saute the leeks in the oil and butter until softened, but not brown.
  • Grate the cheese (or crumble it like I did!), and add it to the pot, stirring over a low heat until it is melted. Add the flour and stir constantly for 2 minutes. Add ground black pepper and mustard to taste.
  • Gradually add the stock, stirring constantly and blending it in well. Bring the soup to the boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for approximately 15 minutes.
  • ENJOY!

BUTTERNUT SQUASH & APPLE SOUP

Ingredients:

1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped

1 cooking apple, peeled, cored and chopped

2 tbsp butter

1 onion, finely chopped

2 tsp curry powder

3 3/4 cups vegetable stock

1 tsp chopped fresh sage (or 1/4 tsp of dried)

2/3 cup apple juice

salt and pepper

  • Heat the butter in a large Dutch oven, over medium high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring for 5 minutes or until soft. Stir in the curry powder. Cook to bring out the flavour and stir constantly for 2 minutes.
  • Add the stock, squash, apple and sage. Bring to the boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the squash and apples are soft.
  • Puree the soup in blender or food processor. Return to the pot and add the apple juice. Taste and season accordingly.
  • ENJOY!










Sunday, September 27, 2009

Ground Beef - A - Rama!!


Greg and I did our bi-annual clean out of the chest freezer and I was pleased to see that there weren't any big surprises this time (I've been a little more dilligent than in years past!) But we did have a ton of ground beef since we received hamburger patties as well as ground beef in our summer CSA meat share. Inspired by the cooler fall weather I decided to pull out 3 lbs and get to work on creating some meals that I could freeze.


The first was a "Tandoori Chili" from my 'Company's Coming: Ground Beef' book (I don't know about you, but I really can't get inspired by ground meat in quite the same way as a tenderloin or chop, so I bought this book to give me some ideas - and it's quite good!) My girlfriend Michelle absolutely loves this, and since having some of mine, makes it all the time for her family! The second dish was a "Butternut & Beef Chili" from my own stash of recipes and the third a "Fiesta Strata". These were all made within 2 hours and contain ingredients that I had on hand ~ always a bonus in my books!
TANDOORI CHILI
Ingredients:
2 tsp cooking oil
1 lb lean ground beef
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 tbsp grated gingerroot, or 3/4 tsp dried ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tbsp paprika
2 tsp crushed red chilis
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
19oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
14 oz can of diced tomatoes, with juice
1 cup water
7 1/2 oz can of tomato sauce
1 cup plain yogurt
  • Heat cooking oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add next 4 ingredients (beef to garlic). Saute until ground beef is no longer pink.
  • Add next 9 ingredients (paprika to cinnamon). Heat and stir for about 1 minute, or until fragrant.
  • Add next 4 ingredients (chickpeas to tomato sauce). Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium low. Simmer uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened.
  • Add yogurt. Heat and stir for 10 minutes until heated through.
  • Serve with either naan or pappadums!!

BUTTERNUT & BEEF CHILI

Ingredients:

1 lb lean ground beef

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped bell pepper

3 cups chopped fresh tomatoes

3 cups peeled, seeded and chopped butternut squash

3 cups water

2 tbsp tomato paste

1 1/2 tsp each: dried oregano, ground cumin, chili powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 16oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

2 cloves minced garlic

1/2 cup small pitted olives

2 to 3 tsp seeded, minced jalapenos

6 tbsp thinly sliced green onions

2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

  • Combine the first 3 ingredients (beef - peppers) in a lagre Dutch oven. Saute over medium-high heat until beef is browned and onions are transluscent.
  • Stir in the next 10 ingredients (tomatoes - garlic). Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for 20 minutes, or until squash is tender.
  • Stir in olves and jalapenos and cook 5 minutes.
  • Ladle into bowls and top with green onions and cilantro (I actually incorporated these into the chili before putting it into my containters for freezing).

FIESTA STRATA

Ingredients:

2 tsp cooking oil

1 lb lean ground beef

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup roasted red peppers, drained, blotted dry and cut into 1/4" strips

4 oz can of diced green chilis, or 3 tbsp freshly chopped and seeded jalapenos

1/2 tsp chili powder

6 - 9" flour tortillas

4 large eggs

2 cups milk

1/4 tsp ground cumin

1 1/2 cups grated monterey jack cheese

  • Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium. Add ground beef and onion. Saute until beef is browned.
  • Add the next 3 ingredients (peppers - chili powder). Heat and stir for 2 to 3 minutes, or until fragrant. Remove from heat.
  • Place 1 flour tortilla in a greased 3 quart (3L) round casserole. Fold eges if necessary to fit into casserole dish. Spread 1/2 cup of the beef mixture over top. Repeat, layering remaining tortillas and beef mixture, ending with a tortilla.
  • Whisk the next three ingredients together in a bowl (eggs - cumin) and pour over top the tortillas in the casserole.
  • Top with the grated cheese. Cover and refrigerate overnight to allow the flavours to blend and the tortillas to absorb the liquid.
  • Bake uncovered in a 350F oven for approximately 1 1/4 hours until puffed and golden.
  • Cut into wedges and serve with salad and salsa!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tomatoes!!!


There really is nothing like the sharp tangy smell of a tomato as it is freshly picked off of the vine. Bright red and warmed by the sun; hidden under mounds of bright green leaves. This is how I was waxing lyrical as I was filling my bushel basket at "Cooper's CSA Farm & Maze" ~ they've now opened up their tomato, strawberry and potato fields to u-pick!! The Cooper's Roma tomatoes are a particular type that are supposed to be optimal for canning ~ frankly as this was my first time ever canning tomatoes, I chose to believe Steve as I knew no different! 1 bushel of tomatoes, 3 quarts of strawberries and a 1/2 bushel of russet potatoes later, we headed home. Carrying the bushel basket was a little tricky (didn't seem so heavy when I was out in the fields with the sounds of bees and crickets filling my head!!!) but I finally wrestled it into the kitchen and began the monumental task of preparing the tomatoes for canning...

With the giant cauldron of water boiling, my sinks filled with ice water and my favourite tunes on the ipod, I peeled and diced 1/2 the bushel. Once those 1L jars were in the canner, I decided that perhaps some whole tomatoes would be nice too ~ some I packed with water and some in strained tomato puree. Then at around the 5th hour of preparing tomatoes, I decided that perhaps some tomato sauce was also in order! The last 1/4 of the bushel was devoted to sauce, and I added some tomatillos that were part of my CSA basket, for good measure.

The whole process really made me appreciate the amount of work that our Grandmother's went to in order to ensure they had items such as fresh tomatoes, all throughout the year as nothing else was available to them. I also like knowing that I am preserving produce that is sustainably raised, and is canned using only a couple of tablespoonfuls of fresh lemon juice!
This is DEFINITELY the best part of living in a farming community and being affiliated with a CSA program!!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Carrot & Onion Relish


So I am still solidly canning and preserving the bounty of the harvest. I received a ton of carrots (some classic orange and some heirloom purple) in my CSA basket from Cooper's. Since I had used some for pickled coleslaw and various other recipes, and the bagful didn't seem to be getting any smaller, I decided this recipe was just the thing to make good use of these delicious and sweet carrots! The author of the book ("The Complete Book of Pickling" and my current bible right now!), Jennifer MacKenzie, suggests using this relish on top of burgers, or combining it with cooked potatoes and mayonnaise for a quick salad! I look forward to trying both!!


CARROT & ONION RELISH

Ingredients:

8 cups shredded carrots (use your food processor as it makes the job quick!)
2 cups of finely chopped onions (I did these in the food processor too!)
2 tbsp pickling or canning salt
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp celery seeds
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 cups cider vinegar
1 tbsp freshly minced garlic
  • In a large non-reactive bowl, combine carrots, onions and salt. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours.
  • Meanwhile prepare canner, jars and lids.
  • In a colander lined with cheesecloth, working in batches, drain vegetables and rinse well. Drain again and squeeze out excess liquid. Set aside in a colander to continue draining.
  • In a large pot, combine sugar, celery seeds, thyme, pepper, and vinegar. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to medium high and add drained vegetables and garlic; return to a boil, stirring often. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring often for about 15 mins or until vegetables are translucent and mixture is slightly thickened.
  • Ladle hot relish into hot jars, leaving 1/2" headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace as necessary by adding hot relish. Wipe rim and place hot lid disc on jar. Screw band down until fingertip-tight.
  • Place jars in the canner and return to a boil. Process for 10 mins. Turn off heat and remove canner lid. Let jars stand in water for 5 mins. Transfer jars to a towel-lined surface and let stand for 24 hours. Check lids and refrigerate any jars that are not sealed.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Sesame Chicken with Green Beans & Scallion Rice

Since it has been such a great year for green beans, we have received tons in our CSA baskets from Cooper's CSA Farm & Maze. I have dilled some, steamed some, frozen some, and given some away...and then I discovered this recipe and all of us fell in love with it! Tonight I am making it again, but omitting the chicken (simply because I haven't thawed any out!), and I know it will still be a big hit!

SESAME CHICKEN WITH GREEN BEANS & SCALLION RICE
Ingredients
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup white rice
2 cups chicken broth
salt, to taste
1/2 lb fresh green beans
1 lb chicken breast, chicken cutlets, or tenders, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
3 tbsp tamari (dark soy sauce)
3 tbsp honey
1 tbsp hot pepper sauce
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp sesame oil
1 bunch of green onions (scallions) finely chopped
2 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted

  • In a large saucepan heat 1 tbsp oil over medium-high heat. Add the rice and toast, stirring often, for a minute or two. Add 1 1/2 cups chicken broth, lower the heat and cover. Simmer until tender - approx. 17 mins.
  • In a large skillet, bring enough water to reach a depth of 1" to a boil, salt it, add the green beans and cook for 2 mins. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
  • Heat the remaining 2 tbsp oil over high heat until rippling. Add the chicken and cook until golden - 3 to 4 mins. Add the bell peppers and cook until softened, 3 mins. Add the green beans and cook, tossing for 1 minute.
  • In a bowl, mix together the tamari, honey, hot sauce, mustard and remaining 1/2 cup chicken broth. Pour the sauce over the chicken and the vegetables; toss. Drizzle the sesame oil over the chicken.
  • Stir the green onions into the rice and fluff with a fork. Serve the chicken over the rice and top with the toasted sesame seeds.
  • ENJOY!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Apple, Onion & Ale Relish


As I logged in today to the blog I realized that it has been almost a month since my last post?! "What have I been doing with myself?", I asked. And then it hit me - I have been preserving like a woman crazed (if my pantry is anything to go by!)

I have been making Zucchini Relish, Tomato & Rhubarb Chutney, Strawberry Jam (by the truckload!), Sweet Watermelon Rind Pickles, Caramelized Vidalia Onions, Dill Pickles (both icicles and slices), Spicy & Sweet Mango Salsa, Salsa Verde, Apple, Onion & Ale Relish, Peppery Strawberry Salsa, and the favourite by far - Dilled Green & Yellow Beans!

So thankfully I haven't been exactly slacking! As I am sweating profusely over my steaming canner I hold fast to the vision of friends and family enjoying these summer flavours in the middle of a long and cold winter.

Yesterday I made the Apple,Onion & Ale Relish that I mentioned earlier, and it is so simple and delicious slathered over a crispbread topped with aged cheddar, I just felt I had to share the recipe! The malt and hops from the ale really add depth to this sweet and savoury relish. It comes from my new favourite book "The Complete Book of Pickling" by Jennifer MacKenzie. I picked it up at Costco for $14.99 and it has been an invaluable resource for unique recipes.
APPLE, ONION & ALE RELISH
Ingredients
4 cups finely chopped onions
2 tbsp pickling salt
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup cider vinegar
2 cups finely chopped peeled tart soft apples (McIntosh or Granny Smith)
1 cup dark ale (I used "Chimay" a Trappist Monk's ale)
4 cups finely chopped peeled tart cooking apples (McIntosh or Granny Smith)
6 - 250mL jars
  • In a large non-reactive bowl, combine onions and salt. Cover and let stand at a cool room temperature for 2 hours.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the canner, jars and lids.
  • In a colander lined with cheesecloth, working in batches, drain and rinse onions well. Drain again and squeeze out excess liquid. Set aside in colander to continue draining.
  • In a large pot, combine brown sugar, mustard seeds, cinnamon, nutmeg and vinegar. Brint to a boil over medium heat, stirring often until sugar is dissolved.
  • Increase heat to medium-high and add drained onions, soft apples and ale; return to a boil, stirring often. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring often for about 10 minutes, or until apples start ot break down and mixture is slightly thickened.
  • Stir in cooking apples and return to a boil, stirring often. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring often to prevent sticking, for about 2 minutes, or until cooking apples just start to soften but don't break down.
  • Ladle hot relish into hot jars, leaving 1/2" (1cm) headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjsut headspace as necessary by adding hot relish. Wipe rim and place hot lid disc on jar. Screw band down until fingertip tight.
  • Place jars in canner and return to boil. Process for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and remove canner lid. Let jars stand in water for 5 minutes. Transfer jars to a towel-lined surface, and allow to stand for 24 hours. Reprocess any jars that the lids did not seal properly on to.
  • Store in a dark and cool cupboard until you are ready to enjoy!!!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Kultura Social Dining

KULTURA SOCIAL DINING
Last night a couple of our friends visited Kultura with us - none of us were familiar with it and the only reason I chose this restaurant is simply because I enjoy watching "Everyday Exotic" with chef Roger Mooking on the Food Network. His food is always colourful and a delightful fusion of regular dishes with exotic cultural ingredients. In fact, the plantain recipe on my blog ("Plantain Gratin" ~ Feb 09) comes from his show! So needless to say I was really excited about visiting his restaurant and looking forward to tasting his dishes...and we definitely weren't disappointed!!
The building is unrecognizable from the street as it is simply a storefront that is glass and black metal without any signage that is apparent, and upon entering you are greeted by the hostess in the bar area where later in the evening a DJ also spins the great music that flooded the entire restaurant.
She took us upstairs to this airy, loft-like area with 14' ceilings and skylights. The tables are beautifully set and the club chairs which surrounded our table even had embroidered throw cushions on them!
Essentially everything is served tapas style and since we are all avid foodies, we ordered all but 2 or 3 items on the menu so we could taste everything the restaurant had to offer! There was not one dish that disappointed; chicken samosas with mango chutney, a market variety of cheeses from Quebec with quince paste, sliced pears and toasted walnuts, tuna tartare, risotto with cheeses and wild mushrooms, beef medallions, black sea bass...you name it, we ate it and shared in the wonderful combinations of flavours that surround each dish. Nothing wasn't thoughtfully paired with zesty, pungent ingredients.
Needless to say the wine and cocktails were also flowing!! The only complaint that we had was that there were four of us at the table and the dishes came out with only three items each ~ we felt the waiter could have suggested he order us plates with four items each for a few dollars per plate more.
Dessert was also served in a sharing platter style; we sampled the mini donut holes with caramel and chocolate sauces, a coconut brulee with pineapple sorbet, chocolate tart with salty crisp caramel and ice cream....all finished off with an Americano!
It was heaven and a must for anyone who is interested in trying a variety of dishes with interesting flavour combinations!
Definitely a very trendy, comfortable environment with great music, food and atmosphere!!

Stuffed Zucchini (or maybe reaching zucchini overload!)

We are still receiving zucchini in our CSA basket and I might possibly be reaching zucchini overload...but not yet!!!
I decided to pull out an old favourite this week for dinner - stuffed zucchini! My son Devon enjoyed it and I think you will too!

STUFFED ZUCCHINI
Ingredients
1 medium zucchini
1 1/2 tbsp EVOO
1 cup chopped onion
1 minced garlic clove
1 medium tomato, chopped
2 tbsp whole wheat bread crumbs
1 tbsp drained capers
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
2 ozs of soft chevre (goat's cheese)
salt & pepper, to taste
  • Preheat the oven to 400F
  • Cut zucchini in half, lengthwise, and trim both ends. With a teaspoon or grapefruit spoon carve otu the centre of each half and reserve the zucchini flesh in a bowl.
  • Put the zucchini shells in a casserole dish and add 1/2 cup of water. Cover dish with foil and bake for 10 minutes, or until the shells are softened.
  • Remove from oven and reduce heat to 350F
  • Heat oil in skillet and add onion. Saute for approximately 5 minutes, or until soft. Chop reserved zucchini flesh and add to pan with garlic and tomato. Cook 5 mins.
  • Take off the heat and add the rest of the ingredients. Mix well and season with salt and pepper.
  • Drain water from casserole dish. Fill zucchini halves with the stuffing and bake for 15 minutes, or until the chevre is melted and slightly browned on top.
  • ENJOY!!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Zucchini Blini



I was the fortunate recipient of approximately 40 to 50 yellow and green tender young zucchini, which were considered 'seconds' by the grower, but perfect for me! I am embarking on canning zucchini relish and therefore, don't really mind that there are slight blemishes on the skins. After chopping for almost an hour, I have minute and uniform finely diced zucchini which I have added to onions, orange and green bell peppers. Before cooking the vegetables for relish, you have to cover with pickling salt and let them sit overnight to leech out most of the water...so more on my relish later!!!

After all this chopping, I really didn't seem to make much of a dent in the huge pile of zucchini in my sink?! So I decided to get out my trusty box grater and my bulging recipe book for this delicious dish that I haven't created since I grew zucchini in my own garden in Toronto, about 8 or 9 years ago! I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!!!

ZUCCHINI BLINI

Ingredients:

2lbs trimmed and grated zucchini
1 tsp kosher salt
1 large red onion, finely diced
1/2 cup grated Parmesan Reggiano
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp white all-purpose flour
3 large free-range eggs
1 to 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
pinch of nutmeg
freshly ground black pepper, to taste



  • Place grated zucchini in a medium-sized bowl, and sprinkle with the kosher salt. Set aside for approximately 10 minutes to leech out the liquid. Drain by pressing zucchini against the sides of the bowl, and pouring off the liquid that pools.

  • Using a fork, stir in remaining ingredients. Mix thoroughly.

  • Drop heaping tbsps of the zucchini mixture onto a hot skillet lightly oiled. Flatten each spoonful into a small pancake shape.

  • Fry until golden and crispy.

  • Serve with sour cream mixed with finely chopped chives, or tzatziki!!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Edamame and Wheat Berry Salad

Although this takes a long time to actually prepare, it is so worth it! The wheat berries are nice and chewy and really make this a satisfying salad. I added red peppers, edamame, celery, feta, garlic scapes and a dressing to make it colourful and flavourful!

WHEAT BERRY & EDAMAME SALAD
Ingredients:
1 (16 ounce) bag frozen edamame
1 cup wheat berries (also called whole wheat kernels)
2 cups vegetable broth
1 red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup crumbled feta
3 chopped green onions, or garlic scapes
2 stalks of celery, finely diced
Dressing:
4 tbsps EVOO
2 tbspss lemon juice
1 tbsp whole grain Dijon mustard
1 tbsps balsamic vinegar
2 tsps dried basil
1 tsp dried dill weed
1 tsp horseradish
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper

Cook wheat berries in a pressure cooker in broth for 45 minutes, or increase the broth 1/2 cup and bring to boil, then reduce and cover and cook for 2 hours or until liqiud is absorbed and berries are tender.

Cook the shelled edamame in boiling water as package instructions require.

Drain edamame and toss with wheat berries. Remove any excess liquid that is made from this process by straining both together in a collander. Mix in other vegetables.

Wisk all the ingredients for the dressing together and pour over salad. Stir to coat.

Refrigerate after salad has cooled and serve the next day.

A Great Way To Use Zucchini!!!




One of the CSA members from "Cooper's Farm" sent in this recipe as it is her favourite way to use zucchini - and after friends and family taste testing them, I think they're our favourite too!!

(And you know they have to be easy for a non-baker like me to make these!!!)

ZUCCHINI BROWNIES

Ingredients:

1 cup flour

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

1/3 cup cocoa

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 - 3 cups shredded zucchini

1 egg

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup plain yogurt

1/2 cup oil

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • Combine flours, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Stir in the shredded zucchini
  • In a separate bowl, mix together the egg, sugars, yogurt, oil and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the zucchini mixture.
  • Spread evenly in a greased 9" x 13" pan (these are lighter than regular brownies and rise more like a cake so a bigger pan is necessary).
  • Sprinkle the top with the chocolate chips (and you can sprinkle nuts on top too if you choose to add these)
  • Bake for approximately 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre, comes out clean.
  • ENJOY!!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Rhubarb-A-Rama!!!


There is nothing, for me, that signifies springtime more than the annual arrival of the rhubarb crop!!! After making a couple of pies (rhubarb meringue pie, and a sour cream and rhubarb pie), I turned me thoughts to my newfound obsession of preserving. I scoured my recipe collection and found a few I had torn out of a "Canadian Living" in the thoughts of one day tackling the scary job of canning....well that day has arrived! I decided to create a chutney that can be enjoyed in the height of wintertime either on a baked brie, or just alongside a ploughman's lunch. Although I have the jars in my cupboard, I have yet to crack the seal on one - but I tasted it just prior to canning and I believe it will quickly become a family fave!!
RHUBARB TOMATO CHUTNEY
Ingredients:
4 cups chopped rhubarb
2 cups packed brown sugar
2 cups chopped, seeded and peeled tomatoes
1 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp hot pepper sauce
1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
  • In a large, shallow Dutch oven, combine rhubarb, sugar, tomatoes, vinegar, raisins, mustard seeds, ginger, garlic, salt and hot pepper sauce; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture is reduced to 4 cups. Approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  • Ladle into hot 1 cup (250 mL) canning jars, leaving 1/2" headspace. Cover with prepared lids; screw on bands fingertip tight. Process in a boiling water bath for 15 mins.
  • Makes 4 cups (1L)
  • Enjoy on top of a baked brie, with robust cheeses or meats, or on a sandwich!


Friday, June 26, 2009

Untraditional Pesto




I received garlic scapes in my CSA basket from "Cooper's Farm" this week, along with bunches of fresh spinach, and a variety of other springtime veggies. Since scapes have such a short season (much like fiddleheads), I wanted to use them in a manner that we can enjoy them all summer long. So when you're given spinach and scapes, you make pesto (in my books anyway!!) This is lovely on pasta, used in place of hot mustard for sausages, on top of burgers, mixed into sour cream and mayonnaise to make a vegetable or tortilla chip dip, or even with steaks or pork chops...basically anywhere you'd use traditional basil-based pesto!


SPINACH & GARLIC SCAPE PESTO

Ingredients:
2 cups spinach leaves, rinsed and dried
1/2 cup roughly chopped garlic scapes
1/4 cup grated Parmesan-Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup EVOO
2 tbsp unsalted butter
salt & pepper

  • Place spinach, garlic scapes and cheese in a food processor. Pulse until chunky.

  • With machine running, pour in EVOO in a steady stream.

  • Process until smooth.

  • Add butter and salt and pepper (to taste), and continue processing until really smooth.

  • Enjoy on your favourite pasta, pizza, grilled meats, or in dips!!!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Mushrooms and Pasta!!




At our local "Vince's" grocery store they often have mushrooms on sale that are still in great condition. The other day I purchased oyster, cremini and white button mushrooms at $1.50 a bag each...but hadn't done anything with them as of this morning. Since our schedule for soccer tends to be a little crazy and doesn't leave much room for making and eating dinner, I prepare casseroles in advance. Today I made two different pasta-based casseroles so that I could use my lovely mushrooms up!



PENNE WITH SPINACH, BACON & CREMINI MUSHROOMS


Ingredients:
500g penne
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
200g bacon, cut into 1/2" pieces
200g mushrooms (whatever type you prefer), chopped
1 pkg frozen spinach, thawed and drained
200 mL 5% cream
salt & pepper
EVOO

  • Cook pasta in boiling, salted water until al dente. Drain and set aside.

  • Saute onion and garlic in EVOO until softened, in a large skillet. Add the bacon and mushrooms and cook till bacon is crisp.

  • Add the cream and stir well and simmer.

  • Add the spinach and season with salt & pepper. Stir well.

  • Toss with the pasta and serve.

  • ENJOY!
FARFALLE WITH SPICY ITALIAN SAUSAGE, OYSTER MUSHROOMS & TOMATOES


Ingredients:

4 hot Italian sausages
796 mL can of chopped tomatoes, undrained
4 tbsp EVOO, divided
1/2 cup fresh basil, coarsely chopped & loosely packed
1 small onion, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tbsp finely grated carrot
salt & pepper
2 cups oyster mushrooms, sliced
3 cups of farfalle pasta
Parmesan Reggiano cheese, grated
  • Simmer sausages in water for approx. 5 minutes (or until just cooked). Let cool.

  • In a large skillet, heat 2 tbsp EVOO. Add basil, onion, garlic and carrots; saute until soft. Season with salt & pepper. Add tomatoes and simmer for 30 minutes, or until fairly thick.

  • Cut sausages diagonally into thin slices. In a small skillet, saute sausages in remaining 2 tbsp EVOO until lightly browned (make sure that the oil is very hot or the sausage will fall apart). Add mushrooms and saute until tender. Add mushrooms and sausages to tomato sauce; simmer 5 mins.

  • Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water. Drain and return to saucepan. Add sauce and toss. Serve with grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese.

  • ENJOY!


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Quick & Easy Spanokopita


This is a recipe that I got from "Martha Stewart Living" magazine. When the spinach is readily available in our crop share basket, we eat this like it's going out of style! Paired with the lemon-roasted potatoes (see my "go-to potatoes" post on May 4th, 2009), it is a wonderful meal, add a salad or steamed asparagus (also ripe for the picking at the same time as spinach!), and this is a nice lunch.


QUICK SPANOKOPITA

Ingredients:

3 tbsp EVOO
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb baby spinach leaves
1 large farm-fresh egg
1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh dill, finely chopped
6 oz feta cheese, crumbled (or as much as you fancy!!)
1 1/2 tsp coarse salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
10 sheets of phyllo dough, thawed if frozen
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

  • Preheat oven to 350F

  • Heat EVOO in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and saute until softened and fragrant - approx. 8 mins.

  • Gradually add spinach and cook, stirring often, until wilted - approx. 5 mins.

  • Transfer spinach mixture to a bowl and stir in egg, herbs, feta, salt and pepper.

  • Lay 1 sheet of phyllo pastry on a parchment-lined baking sheet (cover remaining sheets with a damp towel to prevent them drying out), and brush lightly with butter. Repeat twice.

  • Spread spinach mixture in centre, leaving approx. 1" border.

  • Top with three more butter sheets of phyllo pastry. Fold in sides to make a rectangular package.

  • Lightly crumple remaining 4 sheets of phyllo pastry and place on top of spanokopita. Lightly brush with butter.

  • Bake until dark golden, approx. 40 minutes

  • ENJOY!

Spinach & Blue Cheese Salad with Pears and Candied Pecans!!!




I know many of you have had the opportunity to taste and enjoy this salad, but it wasn't until I looked through all the recipes that I have posted, that I realized I have never officially posted this recipe (although I have had written it out many time for friends and have included it on the recipe section of the "Cooper's CSA Farm & Maze" website http://www.coopersfarm.ca/ that I am in charge of)....so here it is! I even included photos of the dressing and completed salad to whet your appetites!!
I had a similar salad at "Quigley's" in Toronto and enjoyed it so much that when I came home, I decided to experiment and try reproducing the flavours at home. The difference that I made was to create a red onion vinaigrette dressing as opposed to a sweeter one that was used at the restaurant.
SPINACH & BLUE CHEESE SALAD WITH PEARS AND CANDIED PECANS
Ingredients For Dressing:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 to 4 tbsp finely chopped red onions
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup oil (EVOO makes the dressing take on a greenier tone, but a vegetable or grain-based oil gives the dressing the bright pink colour you see in the picture above)
  • Combine the first 4 ingredients in a blender (I use my mini-chopper), and blend well.
  • While running, add oil in a steady stream until the dressing becomes thick and smooth.

Ingredients For Candied Pecans:

1 cup pecan halves (or 1/2 cup pecans and 1/2 cup walnuts)

1/3 cup brown sugar, firmy packed

2 tbsp butter, melted

  • Stir all ingredients together in a small bowl and then spread on a lightly greased baking sheet, or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (which I prefer because it means less clean-up!)
  • Bake at 350F for 12-15 minutes, stirring frequently to ensure even coating.
  • Let cool and set aside. Once the mixture is cool and looks like brittle, just crumble and put into a container with a lid. The nuts can be kept in a fridge for at least two weeks (although they don't last that long at our house!)

Salad:

10 oz bag of baby spinach leaves

2 ripe pears, peeled and cut into chunks

Crumbled blue cheese (frankly I don't measure this - as much as you would like!)

Red Onion Vinaigrette

Candied Pecans

  • Combine the first three ingredients in a large salad bowl.
  • Drizzle with the vinaigrette and sprinkle with the candied pecans
  • ENJOY!!!