asian slaw

September 5, 2014

asian slaw

This is a new slaw recipe to add to the others on v:gourmet: traditional slaw and stinging nettle slaw. One can’t have too much slaw in one’s life. This one is from River Cottage Veg by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. If you don’t have this cookbook, it’s well worth a trip to your local bookstore. It’s got fantastic recipes, and his philosophy is bang-on. As Fearnley-Whittingstall says of his new approach to food and cooking, “The object of the exercise is, unambiguously, to persuade you to eat more vegetables. Many more vegetables. Perhaps even to make veg the mainstay of your daily cooking. And therefore, by implication, to eat less meat, maybe a lot less meat, and maybe a bit less fish too. Why? We need to eat more vegtatbles and less flesh because vegetables are the foods that do us the most good and our plaent the least harm. Do I need to spell out in detail the arguments to support that assertion? Is there anyone who seriously doubts it to be true? Just ask yourself if you, or anyone you know, might be in danger of eating too many vegetables. Or if you think the world might be a better, cleaner, greener, place with a few more factory chicken or pig farms or intensive cattle feedlots scattered about the countryside. Surely it’s close to being a no-brainer.” Well said Hugh. Bring on the slaw.

1 bunch of green onions, trimmed and sliced

4 carrots, peeled

1 small green cabbage

For the dressing

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar or rice vinegar

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon clear honey

1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

A handful of cilantro, coarsely torn

Lime juice

Put the sliced green onions into a large bowl. Cut the carrots into fine julienne with a mandolne or grate them coarsely and add to the bowl. Remove any blemished outer leaves from the cabbage, then quarter and cut away the core. Shred the leaves as finely as you can and combine with the green onions and carrots

For the dressing, whisk together all the ingredients, making sure the honey is dissolved. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and toss thoroughly. Leave for 10-20 minutes to soften and “relax.” Serve the coleslaw scattered with cilantro and sprinkled with lime juice.

cobb salad

August 27, 2014

cobb salad

I’m not even sure what a cobb salad is and, in fact, I become a little less certain with each recipe I look up as each one is totally different. Wiki says that it came about in the 1930s at the Hollywood Brown Derby restaurant, where it became a signature dish, named for the restaurant’s owner, Robert Howard Cobb. The legend is that Cobb had not eaten until midnight, when he mixed together leftovers he found in the kitchen, along with some bacon cooked by the line cook, and tossed it with their French dressing. Who knows? I figure if the legend is true than a good cobb salad includes any leftovers in the fridge, typically presented side by side, not mixed, with a good dressing to throw on top. At the height of August, when sweet corn is at its peak, we seem to always have leftover cobs not eaten. They were my inspiration behind this non-authentic vegan version. But in my book, what recipe is 100% authentic anyway?

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For the salad

1 handful of salad greens

1 fresh summer tomato, diced

1 avocado, diced,

1/2 red onion, finely diced

1/2 cup toasted, salted cashew nuts

2 cobs corn, cooked, niblets removed

For the dressing

1 cup veganaise

1 clove garlic, minced

1 shallot, minced

1 tablespoon fresh dill

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon fresh chives

On a platter, spread the fresh cleaned salad greens. Place piles of your veg ingredients on top in nice rows or messy piles.

In a small bowl, mix the ingredients for the dressing and stir well until everything is combined. Serve alongside the cobb salad so everyone can add dressing to their liking.

quinoa fava bean

Did you know that fava beans, also known as the broad bean, faba bean, field bean, bell bean, or tic bean, are among the most ancient plants in cultivation? Favas are native to North Africa, southwest and south Asia, and are believed to have become part of the eastern Mediterranean diet around 6000 BC or earlier. That’s a long time ago. They must be doing something right. It’s a shame we don’t see them more often in restaurants, cookbooks, and in the markets and grocery stores. They add a wonderful bright earthiness to this quinoa salad – an adaptation on Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s – and a great pop of colour alongside the summer squashes and toasted pine nuts. With a hit of lemon juice, you’ve got a light and lovely lunch salad or side dish.

2 tbsps olive oil

4 or 5 small summer squashes (cousa, pattypan, zucchetta, zucchini), roughly chopped

1 large onion, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

a few sprigs of thyme

1 pound fava beans in pods

1 cup quinoa

a healthy handful of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

a squeeze of lemon juice

1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Place a large frying pan over a medium heat, add the oil and heat. Add the summer squash, onions, thyme and salt and pepper. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the zucchini and tender and starting to turn golden. Add the garlic and fry for another couple of minutes.

While the summer squash is cooking, shell the fava beans, bending the tip of the pod and pulling down the seam of the pod to “unzip” the pod and reveal the beans inside. Discard the fuzzy outer pod. Place the shelled beans in boiling salted water for 5 minutes. Remove and place into ice water. Peel off the beans’ thick waxy outer covering. Set aside.

Rinse the quinoa in several changes of cold water and then place in a saucepan along with 2 cups of cold water and a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat and simmer until the quinoa is tender and the long white kernels are coming away from the seeds. Tip into a sieve and leave to drain and steam.

Combine the quinoa, fava beans, summer squash, and onions and toss to mix well. Add the parsley, lemon juice, salt and pepper and stir well. Check the seasoning and adjust as necessary. Serve topped with toasted pine nuts.

squashchickpea

This is originally from the Casa Moro Cookbook via Food52, one of my go-to blogs for the recipes and fabulous Provisions store. It’s adapted slightly, from a slight adaptation. Which makes me happy – thinking about all these recipes that travel and get shared and get switched up slightly with each new rendition. My daughter, Rebekah, was my co-chef on this one and decided to add Jimmy Nardello Smoked Paprika from the amazing Vicki’s Veggies. Which is so fitting given the travelling and sharing. Why? Because of Jimmy.

Rumour has it that Giuseppe Nardiello and his wife, Angela, nurtured a favourite variety of sweet frying pepper in southern Italy in the region of Basilicata. When they set sail from the port of Naples in 1887, Angela carried a handful of the pepper seeds with her. They settled in Naugatuck, Connecticut, where they raised the peppers, and eleven children. The fourth one was a son named Jimmy. Jimmy was the only one of the Nardello children to inherit Angela’s love of the garden. Jimmy passed away in 1983. But before he did, he donated some of the heirloom pepper seeds to Seed Savers Exchange (SSE) in Decorah, Iowa. SSE specializes in protecting heirloom seeds, with more than 11,000 varieties protected in two separate climate-controlled vaults. One hundred and twenty years after the Nardellos set sail, bringing a small piece of their homeland with them, the pepper that bears the family name is becoming a favourite among chefs and home gardeners nationwide, but it is still registered as “endangered” on Slow Food USA’s Ark of Tastes. The Ark is an effort to find, catalog, and protect the world’s endangered flavours from the onslaught of the standardization of agriculture and cuisine. Crazy, right? Totally. But beautiful and important and poignant and a great addition to this warm winter salad.

2 pounds pumpkin or other winter squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 tsp ground allspice

1/2 tsp jimmy nardello smoked paprika

2 tbsps olive oil

Sea salt and black pepper

14 ounces canned or home-cooked chickpeas, drained

1/2 small red onion, finely chopped

4 tbsps fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

3 1/2 tbsps lemon juice

3 tbsps tahini paste

2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsps water, to taste

Heat the oven to 425°F

Toss the squash with the garlic, allspice, smoked paprika, olive oil, and some salt and pepper.

Place on a tray, optionally lined with parchment, in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until soft. Remove and allow to cool slightly.

While the squash is cooking, make the tahini sauce. Mix the minced garlic with lemon juice and add the tahini. Now thin with the water and olive oil, and check for seasoning. You should taste a balance between the nutty tahini and lemon.

To assemble the salad, place the squash, chickpeas, red onion, and cilantro in a mixing bowl. Pour on the tahini sauce and remaining oil and toss carefully. Season with salt and pepper. Serve. Eat. And say a prayer of thanks to Jimmy.

spidskål

January 1, 2014

spidskal

What you probably know is that cabbage is a leafy green plant grown as an annual vegetable crop for its dense-leaved heads and is closely related to other veggies, like broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts. What you probably don’t know is that cabbage was most likely domesticated somewhere in Europe before 1000 BC and that by the Middle Ages, it had become a prominent part of European cuisine, especially in the wintertime because it’s so hardy. Denmark was no exception. Spidskål is a Danish Cabbage Salad featured by Mikkel Lippman from Copenhagen in the new Kinfolk Table. I used Nappa Cabbage for this recipe which is a Chinese, not Danish, Cabbage with a Japanese name – “nappa” is colloquial term in Japanese referring to the leaves of any vegetable, especially when used as food. So, once again, the world meets in this simple, elegant dish with a crispness from the cabbage, a nuttiness from the sesame seeds, and a tanginess from the dressing. But despite its simplicity – perhaps because of it – it can hold its own on any celebratory table.

1/2 cup white sesame seeds

1 head napa cabbage

3 tbsps red wine vinegar

2 tsps Dijon-style mustard

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Toast the sesame seeds in a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely.

Discard any torn or wilted leaves from the outside of the cabbage. Cut the head in half and discard the core. Finely shred or chop the cabbage, placing it a wide mixing bowl as you work. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add half of the toasted sesame seeds. Toss well and set aside.

Combine the vinegar and mustard in a small mixing bowl. Gradually whisk in the oil to form an emulsified dressing. Drizzle the dressing over the cabbage and toss to coat evenly. Transfer to a serving bowl. Sprinkle with the remaining toasted sesame seeds. Serve cold or at room temperature.

baby beluga 2

 

I’m heading to London, England next week and will be dining at the fabulous Ottolenghi’s on Tuesday night. I can’t wait. I use his cookbooks all the time and am very inspired by him. And now I get to feast on his creations prepared by – not by me in my humble little kitchen – but by his peeps. So this recipe is in honour of that occasion. I’ve switched it up a bit but it’s still his signature style using fresh, good quality ingredients in a simple way with heaps of fresh herbs to make it sing.

10 cherry tomatoes, quartered

8 thyme sprigs

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp thick balsamic vinegar

1 tsp sea salt

1 small red onion, very thinly sliced

1 tbsp good-quality red wine vinegar

1 tsp sea salt

1 1/3 baby beluga lentils

3 tbsp olive oil

1 garlic clove, crushed

3 tbsp chopped parsley

3 tbsp chopped chives

4 tbsp chopped dill

pine nuts, toasted

black pepper

Start by making the oven-dried tomatoes. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Quarter the tomatoes vertically and place skin-side down on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment. Arrange the thyme sprigs on top of them. Drizzle over the olive oil and balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with some salt. Roast for 1 hour, or until semi-dried. Discard the thyme and allow to cool down slightly.

Meanwhile, place the red onion in a medium bowl, pour over the vinegar and sprinkle with the sea salt. Stir, then leave for a few minutes so the onion softens a bit. Place the lentils in a pan of boiling water (the water should come 3cm above the lentils) and cook for 20-30 minutes, or until tender. Drain well in a sieve and, while still warm, add to the sliced onion. Also add the olive oil, garlic and some black pepper. Stir to mix and leave aside to cool down. Once cool, add the herbs and gently mix together. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

To serve, pile up the lentils on a large plate or bowl, integrating the tomatoes as you build up the pile. Drizzle the tomato cooking juices on top,  sprinkle with the pine nuts, and serve.

 

 

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The farmer’s market is one of my favourite places to go on a Saturday morning. The sunny faces, the fresh produce, the smell of hard work and satisfaction, the chaos of kids and dogs and lazy shoppers. I love all it, but I especially love the potential of what all those local ingredients will become, and the release from decision-making and meal planning. You can go to the market, see what they have, and just prepare what you come home with. Yesterday it was baby zucchini, zucchini blossoms, basil, mint, tomatoes, and thyme. No need to over-think it – just prepare what you’ve got and thank the gods for this season’s bounty. This is a zippy, zingy salad thanks to the lemon zest, with lovely aromatic notes thanks to the fiori di zucca, or zucchini blossoms. And it’s pretty to boot which should never be underestimated; pleasing to the stomach, heart and soul.

1 generous handful fresh thyme sprigs

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

6 mixed baby zucchini, thinly shaved on a mandoline

5 or 6 small  tomatoes, quartered

6 zucchini blossoms, halved or quartered if large

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves

1/4 cup fresh mint leaves

Pinch of red-pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Coarsely ground pepper

Place thyme on a cutting board, and bruise with the dull edge of a knife. Place thyme and oil in a small saucepan. Cover, and heat over medium heat until small bubbles appear. Turn off heat, and steep thyme, covered, 20 minutes. Discard sprigs, leaving loose thyme leaves in oil. Whisk together lemon zest and juice and 2 tablespoons thyme oil.

Combine half the dressing with the zucchini, tomatoes, zucchini blossoms, basil, mint, red-pepper flakes, and salt. Season with pepper, and toss. Prepare nicely on a platter. Drizzle with remaining dressing, and sprinkle with little more basil and mint.