harissa quinoa salad

November 5, 2015

IMG_0589Adapted from Amy Chaplin’s At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen, this is a quick and easy recipe with a bit of heat and heartiness, that’s highly adaptable to whatever you happen to have in the fridge. Serve with some feta on top or not, a little gremolata, or extra harissa if you like the hit.

1 cup quinoa

1.5 cups water

Sea salt

2 peppers – red, orange or yellow – seeded, grilled, and cut into 1 ½ inch pieces

1/3 cup almonds

1/3 cup pine nuts

1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes

1 red onion, diced

3 tablespoons harissa

Juice of ½ a lemon

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

sea salt and pepper

Goat milk feta

Baby basil, or other, sprouts

IMG_0583

Harissa

1 tablespoon cumin seeds

1 tablespoon coriander seeds

1 tablespoon caraway seeds

1 to 3 teaspoons cayenne pepper, depending on how hot you like it

1 clove garlic, crushed

Juice of half a lemon

Large pinch sea salt

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Place quinoa in a pot and cover with water and pinch of sea salt. Cover, place over high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn heat down to low and simmer until quinoa is cooked, about 15 – 20 minutes. Remove from heat, uncover, and set aside to cool.

For the harissa, warm a skillet over a medium flame and add the cumin, coriander and caraway seeds, toast for 3 minutes, shaking pan occasionally. Transfer into a spice grinder and grind until fine. Place ground spices in a bowl and add the cayenne, garlic, lemon juice and salt. Stir and then drizzle in the olive oil, stir until smooth. Set aside.

Meanwhile, brush peppers with olive oil and grill on a BBQ or roast in the oven. Once done, let cool and cut into bite size pieces.

Toast pine nuts and almonds in a dry skillet over medium heat until toasty brown and fragrant.

Place quinoa, peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, chopped onion, almonds and pine nuts, harissa, lemon juice, and cider vinegar in a bowl. Mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add additional harissa if you want more kick.

Transfer to a serving bowl; crumble feta, additional pine nuts, and sprouts on top if desired.

 

borscht

October 17, 2015

borscht2

For me, borscht conjures images of the Russian steppes, a snappy cold autumn wind, the musty smell of a root cellar, warmth in the belly, and a grandmother’s love. It’s a soup made for this time of year with the sweetness of good hearty vegetables just harvested – cabbage, beets, carrots – and the sourness of apple cider vinegar straight from laden orchards. In fact sweet and sour is one of its signature qualities going back to its slavic origins when it was known as *bŭrščǐ  which means hogweed. Hogweed was the soup’s original ingredient before it was replaced with other vegetables and then brought to North America by Yiddish-speaking Ashkenazi Jews from Eastern Europe. I like that the recipe was featured in the Domostroy, a 16th-century Russian compendium of “moral rules and homemaking advice” where it notes, as an essential part of the recipe, “for the Lord’s sake, to share it with those in need.” I got the basis for the version below from Liz at Sugar Ridge Retreat Centre who fortunately took that advice and shared it with me.

borscht1

3 tbsps olive oil

2 large onions, sliced finely

3 cloves garlic, minced

seasoning – caraway, dill, fennel seeds, myrtle, or whatever tickles your fancy

2 medium carrots, grated

3 large beets, grated

1 small head of red cabbage, sliced finely

sea salt and pepper

6 cups veggie or smoked cabbage stock 

2 tbsps apple cider vinegar

In a large dutch oven heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add sliced onions and sauté until soft, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and sauté another 2-3 minutes until garlic is fragrant. Add seasoning – seeds or ground spices. Sauté for a minute or two being careful not to burn them. Add carrots, beets, cabbage and a bit of sea salt and pepper on top. Cover with stock, bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to low. Let simmer until vegetables are tender, 20 – 30 minutes. Add apple cider vinegar and season to taste.

cherry tomato galette

September 13, 2015

tomato galette

It’s at this time of year that we truly experience abundance. Nature is throwing itself, full force, on the world by end of summer, exploding with fertility and growth and plenty. Visit a farmer and you’ll see the wearied look of so many tomatoes to pick, so many squash to harvest, so many beans dripping from the vine. It’s a blessed season and I try to take advantage of it by buying too many tomatoes, a full stock of squash, and as many beans as I can reasonably eat in the coming week. On the tomato front I’ve spent the day slow roasting tomatoes, making ribolitta with tomatoes, slicing fresh tomatoes on sandwiches, and prepping this cherry tomato galette for dinner tonight. Create a base of whatever tickles your fancy – pesto, olive tapenade, or herbed-ricotta if you’re a cheese eater. Smother it with fresh tomatoes. Wrap it like the present it is, from mother nature herself. Bake. And saveur the sweetness that is abundance.

1 package puff pastry

1 jar pesto

A large basket of cherry tomatoes

Sea salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Roll out the puff pastry on a floured surface. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Spread pesto, tapenade, or whatever you’re using as a base, on the puff pastry up to about 1/2 inch from the edges. Smoother with sliced and/or quartered cherry tomatoes. Sprinkle liberally with sea salt and pepper. Fold the edges of the puff pastry over the tomatoes. Place in the oven and bake for approximately 30 minutes or until pastry is golden brown and tomatoes are sweetly singing.

veggie pakora

April 17, 2015

veggie pakora

My eldest, Joshua, is in the middle of his final exams. Like the best of us, he’s looking for a few procrastination strategies which, fortunately for our household, took the form of making veggie pakoras today. Spicy. Deep-fried. Oniony. Crunchy. What student could ask for anything more? What mom could be happier to smell the sweet smell of home-cooked goodness in the house? What food blogger could be more pleased to swoop in and post the results?

1 cup chickpea flour, sieved

1 medium onion

3 medium potatoes

1 tsp of salt

2 tsps of garam masala

1 tsp of turmeric

2 chillies, finely chopped

1 tbsp ginger, grated (optional)

Handful of coriander, chopped

2 tsp of dried fenugreek leaves

1 tsp of cumin seeds

½ tsp of red chilli powder

Water

Oil for deep frying

Heat up the oil in a karahi or wok over medium heat.

Slice the onion lengthways very thinly and place in a bowl. Peel and grate (or very finely chop) the potatoes into the same bowl. You can also use aubergines and cauliflower – chop into very small pieces.

Sprinkle all the dry spices and freshly chopped coriander, chillies and ginger into the bowl and then sieve in the chickpea flour – mix together using your hands. Add a small amount of water a little at a time to create a thick batter that coats all the vegetables. Squeeze the mixture through your fingers to ensure all the spices mix through. (Do not leave the batter and vegetable mixture for too long before cooking.)

Test your oil is hot enough by dropping a little batter into the oil. If it browns and rises immediately then it is ready. Very carefully drop in spoonfuls of the mixture into the oil and fry until golden brown. Using a slotted spoon move the pakora around, be careful not to overcrowd them.

Once golden brown and crisp remove from the oil and set on some paper towel. Serve with a yummy raita or a vegan-version tahini dip.

Thanks to Hari Ghotra for Joshua’s inspiration.

classic gremolata

April 11, 2015

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Gremolata is a traditional milanese condiment typically served with ossobuco alla milanese. With only 3 ingredients – lemon, parsley, and garlic – it’s fresh, zesty, and pungent so why limit its outings into the culinary world? It would be happy on this nossobuco vegan version of ossobuco. But it would be just as happy on pasta e fagioli, a fennel leek parsley risotto, or an end-of-winter vegetable stew. Bring it out whenever you need an extra guest at the party.

Handful of parsley, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

Zest of 1 lemon

Wash and dry the parsley thoroughly. Chop the parsley coarsely on a chopping board. Add minced garlic and lemon zest to the pile. Continue to chop all 3 together until well-blended and the parsley is finely chopped. Mix with your hands a little more if needed.

farro and winter vegetables

Technically it’s spring but given that the earth is still in a deep freeze here and that spring won’t really come to our plates for several months yet, our table is still adorned with winter vegetables. This recipe is a case in point. It’s a warm salad starring winter vegetables – carrots, parsnips, celeriac and cauliflower, with a solid supporting role given to farro – a warming hulled wheat grown in the Garfagnana region of Tuscany  which can receive an IGP designation (Indicazione Geografica Protetta) by law guaranteeing its geographic origin. If you can’t find farro, barley is its identical twin. Topped with a little parsley and some toasted pine nuts, it takes centre stage nicely on its own, or accompanied by a little baked tofu or grilled chicken depending on your preference. It’s from Diana Henry’s new A Change of Appetite which I recommend picking up on your next visit to the library or local book store.

For the salad

6 carrots, trimmed, peeled and halved lengthwise (quartered if very fat)

3 parsnips, trimmed, peeled and halved lengthwise (quartered if very fat)

1/2 head of celeriac, peeled and cut into wedges

1/2 head of cauliflower, broken into small florets

3 tbsps olive oil

sea salt and black pepper

1 cup semi-pearl farro

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tsps white balsamic vinegar

2 tsps mixed seeds or nuts

For the dressing

1 tsp whole- grain mustard

1-2 tsps honey

5 tsps cider vinegar

1/2 cup olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

pinch of dried red pepper flakes

1 tbsp finely chopped parsley leaves

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Toss the carrots, parsnips, celeriac, and cauliflower with olive oil and a little sea salt and pepper. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet in a single layer. Roast for approximately 40 minutes, or until tender and slightly burnished in patches.

Meanwhile, cook the farro. Put it into a saucepan and cover with plenty of cold water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and cook for 20 – 25 minutes until tender (even when cooked it retains a bite in the centre). Drain and immediately dress with the olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, and seasoning.

To make the dressing, put the mustard, honey, and vinegar into a small bowl, season well, and whisk in the oil in a stream. Now mix in all the other dressing ingredients and taste.

Gently toss all the vegetables together with the farro and the dressing, adding any seeds or nuts you prefer.

 

 

cabbage soup 1

This recipe is quite a treat. Andrew and I were in NYC a couple of weeks ago and ate at The Gramercy Tavern for his birthday dinner. We had the vegetarian tasting menu.  The main course was this simple but powerful smoked cabbage soup with raw vegetables and grilled Japanese sweet potato – or satsumaimo – unlike any soup I’ve eaten before. Lo and behold, we were invited into the kitchen at the end of dinner to meet the chef and we were given the broad outlines of the recipe. I’ve looked all over for a similar recipe and I can’t find one. So, you saw it here first. I have to admit that theirs was better but this one’s pretty damn good.

cabbage soup 2

1 head cabbage, quartered

sea salt

1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, sliced

2 cloves garlic, sliced finely

1 tbsp minced ginger

sprinkle of red pepper chili flakes

6 cups veggie stock

3 tbsps tamari sauce

1 1/2 tsps sherry vinegar

1 satsumaimo sweet potato, peeled and cut into large cubes

2 brussels sprouts, shaved finely

2 green onion, chopped finely

a handful of sliced cabbage, carrots, radishes or other vegetables of your choosing

2 chanterelle mushrooms, chopped coursly

tender green shoots

cabbage soup 3

Preheat your BBQ to high. Add hickory (or any fruit wood) in a small smoking box to create a home-made smoking oven. Add the quartered cabbage and grill on all sides. Once it’s nicely browned, turn down the heat to low, salt the cabbage well, and smoke the cabbage for approximately 2 hours until it’s super tender and smokey. Leave the BBQ on low heat.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large stock pot. Sauté onions until carmelized. Add garlic, minced ginger, and chili flakes and sauté for another 3-5 minutes until garlic is fragrant. Add vegetable stock, soy sauce, and smoked cabbage. Bring to a boil then turn down and simmer for approximately 45 minutes until the flavours meld. Strain and finish with the vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Keep piping hot over the stove.

While your stock is cooking, prepare the satsumaimo sweet potato by peeling it and cutting it into large cubes. Brush with a little olive oil and grill in the BBQ on low heat until soft and charred on the outside.

Prepare your other vegetables and place them in the bottom of large soup bowls. Add the grilled satsumaimo. Finish with some tender shoots. Place vegetable bowls in front of hungry eaters and when everyone is seated and ready, pour smoked cabbage stock over the vegetables to the sounds of “oooohh” and “ahhhhhh.” Feel the satisfaction.