People fret about the turkey. Dry brine or wet brine? Frozen or fresh? Pumpkin pie is the highlight for others. What spice mix to use? Whipped cream or ice cream? For me the Thanksgiving meal is all about stuffing or better yet, dressing. Chunks of dried bread soaked in eggs and broth, mixed in with aromatic vegetables and herbs, baked until golden. Pour some gravy over it and it’s the highlight of my Thanksgiving meal. I like it so much I cannot be bothered to stuff the turkey with it since no bird would be big enough to fit all the stuffing I want to make. This year I gave up on the turkey altogether and made a pot roast (more on that later). But the dressing? Oh the dressing had to be there! This year I decided to make a cornbread stuffing. I made a package of Bob’s Red Mill’s Gluten Free Cornbread Mix since the cornbread had to be gluten free. I used Martha Stewart’s cornbread dressing recipe as a base with a few alterations as below. At first I thought there was too much liquid in the original recipe but after adding 2 eggs and 1 cup of broth, the mix seemed very dry and I added the other cup of broth and 2 eggs as called for in the original.
1 tbsp olive oil
I can’t really explain what I found attractive about it. I’m not even one that is particularly crazy for acidic food. Either way, when I heard Fernanda, from Chucrute com Salsicha, mention shrubs (the drink, not the small trees), I had to try it. It seemed simple enough – you mix some fruit, sugar, and vinegar and let it sit in the fridge for a week. You strain the fruit and use it as a base to make spritzer type drinks. I could not resist and looked around for what I could use to make my own batch. I had some ripe peaches sitting around and googled “peach shrub” which took me to this incredibly simple recipe from Chow.com. It’s now sitting in my fridge. I’ll give the verdict next week. Stay tuned!
I’m not a baker. You will find few recipes for cakes or pastries on this blog, much to the chagrin of my husband. My desserts tend to be of the fresh kind: some cheese, yogurt, or ricotta with fresh seasonal fruits and some maple syrup or honey. I knew making ricotta* was easy so when I saw a recipe at Chucrute com Salsicha, one of my favourite food blogs, I knew I had to try. All you need is a litre of milk (I used whole milk), half a litre of cream, 1 tsp salt, and 3 tbsp of white wine vinegar. Mix the milk cream, and salt in a stainless-steel pot and bring it near the boiling point over medium heat. Remove from the heat and add the vinegar. Let it sit for a few minutes until the milk mixture curds. Cover a colander or strainer with a couple layers of cheesecloth or a cotton dish cloth. Pour the curdled milk and let it strain for at least half an hour. The longer you strain, the thicker the ricotta. Once it has reached the desired thickness, scoop the ricotta into a container. It will last a few days in the fridge but it’s best eaten fresh. I had it tonight with strawberries and maple syrup but I think tomorrow I’ll make it on toast with olive oil, salt, pepper, and fresh tomatoes.
* Technically speaking, ricotta is made with whey, a by-product of making cheese. What I’m talking about here is a fresh curd cheese similar to ricotta in texture and taste.
It all started with a question on a Brazilian Facebook group I belong to that is devoted to food. Someone asked for the name of the small round green dry beans she saw at a market. I immediately thought of mung beans and couldn’t stop thinking about it. So I picked some up this weekend and made it tonight with curry spices.
300g dried mung beans (the original recipe was 220g, I had a bit more and used it all)
Wash the mung beans and boil them in plenty of hot water until cooked through. Drain and set aside.
Brown the onions in the vegetable oil. Add the mustard seeds and cook for 1-2 minutes and then add the cumin seeds, curry leaves, garlic and chillies. Saute until aromatic.
Add the tomatoes, turmeric and mung beans and cook for two minutes.
Add the salt, lemon juice, and cinnamon powder and cook for a further two minutes.
Add the chopped coriander, if using, and serve.
I don’t often bake but we were having a few friends over and I this simple French cake caught my eye at a friend’s blog. It’s very quick to whip together and no mixer needed.
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter a loaf pan and sprinkle it with flour. Set aside
2. In a mixing bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and salt. In another mixing bowl mix sugar and lemon peel and mix in the lemon peel with the sugar with your fingers until the sugar is damp from the lemon essence. Add oil, eggs, yogurt, and vanilla extract and mix everything with a whisk until it is well mixed.
3. Fold the liquid mixture with the dry mixture mixing with a spatula until well mixed. Pour the batter in the cake pan and bake for about 50 mins.
What a week. I prepared on sunday by cooking a big pot of rice and another big pot of beans. Nice mixed beans from the farmers’ market that we shelled ourselves. Or rather that Alan shelled with the help of the cats, who LOVE to chase runaway dry beans. Monday I went to work bringing my lunch of leftover rice with mixed bean stew with some chicken sausage from Cumbrae’s. By evening I was under the blankets in pain and shivering. Yep. I caught a flu. Boo. Classes cancelled Tuesday and Wednesday and a stream of uninspired meals involving rice, chicken, lots of fluids, and I made it to Thursday night without eating out (or ordering in) a single time despite being sick! SUCCESSS! Nothing was particularly photogenic, I’m afraid. I was uninspired, my taste buds are shot, but we made it. Well, one day left but there’s enough past leftover to carry us through tomorrow. And that’s the goal for now: if we can make it through the week without eating out, that’s already an improvement.
My husband and I keep telling ourselves we need to eat out less often. It’s not just for health reasons – our reasons are a bit more indulgent: we want to be able to afford to eat more often at nice restaurants and we want to be able to travel more. Living downtown, with so many restaurants at our doorstep means that I can easily be persuaded to go out for a quick bite at the end of a busy day at work. But it has to stop. This means being a bit radical at the beginning so we can establish some new habits. The challenge this week is to see if I can go through the entire working week without eating out at all. In order to prepare, I cooked a batch of beans today and have a batch of brown rice on the stove. I’ll publish here some of the different meals I make this week – hopefully it will bring this blog back to life!
I have always had an ambiguous relationship with animal fat. I love creamy desserts and high fat cheeses and butter, but kept my distance from other types of animal fats. Not the meats. Just the fats. And yes, I know the fat makes it taste good but I always had to cut out the fat before eating that nice roast or steak. When I was growing up, a mistaken bite of a piece of beef or pork fat would make my stomach immediately turn. It would take all my will power not to throw up immediately.
This relationship has changed over the years. I am now a huge fan of sausages of all kinds. That’s what happens if you live in Spain, I suppose. Yesterday I turned another corner. I bought pork fat. I told myself I was just buying it to season my cast iron pan. Vegetable oil was just not doing the trick. Turns out I only needed a tea spoon of fat for seasoning my pan and now have a small container of Berkshire pork fat sitting in my fridge. Not wanting it to go to waste, I used some to make my friend polenta and egg this morning. Oh my. What was I thinking all these years? The crust on the egg, the smells, the flavour, every aspect of my meal was enhanced by that small dollop of pork fat. This can’t be good. Or can it? I’m sure I can find health benefits for pork fat somewhere….
I’m not much of a baker but when I saw this recipe for soda bread, it looked too simple not to try it out. I’m glad I did! It turned out perfectly!
It’s been a while. I haven’t stopped cooking, I swear. The photos on the sidebar are proof. It’s been a crazy semester at work and I haven’t found much time to blog but today.. well, today I made congee. Delicious congee. and I had to share this. Congee is a savoury rice soup that is popular in China as a breakfast soup but also used in Chinese medicine as a healing food. It cannot get much simpler: it’s basically a small amount of rice that is cooked in a lot of broth until the rice breaks apart and becomes porridge-like. I had had it once at a Chinese restaurant in Markham and have been interested in making it ever since. Since we had a turkey dinner this past weekend and I had all this leftover broth and turkey, the occasion was too perfect to miss. It seemed like the perfect dish to cook in my small slow cooker. Ideally congee is made with white rice but I wanted to try it with brown basmati rice – I figured 12 hours on the slow cooker would be enough to break it apart.
So this morning I added to the slow cooker:
3/4 cup of brown basmati rice, washed
8 cups of broth
1 inch piece of ginger, sliced
I set the slow cooker to low, and went to work (Alan kept an eye on it during the day – I don’t really trust these gadgets on their own).
When I got home, around 6 pm, the rice had fallen apart and the liquid was nice and thick. So I took a couple cups of leftover turkey, chopped it, heated it up on a pan and added it to the congee. Normally you would want to add some green onions to the mixture but since I didn’t have any I added leftover kale and mustard greens that had been cooked with leeks. I seasoned the whole thing with tamari sauce to taste and voilà: AWESOME congee!