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Black Bean Tofu Hash

Black bean tofu hashI came across the recipe in Dr. David Ludwig’s new book Always Hungry? Conquer Cravings, Retrain your Fat Cells, and Lose Weight Permanently and knew I had to try it. I don’t eat tofu very often or any soy for that matter since thyroid conditions run in my family but I figure that once in a while it wouldn’t hurt. Especially if I make sure to add some seaweed in the diet elsewhere. I changed Dr. Ludwig’s recipe a bit by adding scallions and mushrooms. Feel free to remove them if you don’t like either. I also replaced the cilantro with parsley since my husband is one of those people who cannot tolerate cilantro.

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Sunday breakfast

Saturday is shopping day. Its the day to go to the market and visit the green grocer, the butcher, the cheesemonger. Sunday breakfast then becomes a chance to try some of the goodies discovered on Saturday. This Sunday I had some natural-cured bacon from Sanagan’s Meat Locker (worried about nitrites, read this). Of course, you can’t just have bacon. And once you fry bacon, you need something to do with all that bacon fat. So I fried an egg in it. For colour and a contrasting sweetness, some heirloom tomatoes seasoned with olive oil and salt. To take it to the next level, some cheese from Fifth Town Artisan Cheese. Yum.


About shrimp

My first food memory involves shrimp. I was two or three years-old and my mother had taken me with her to the grocery store. We lived in a small city in northern Brazil, in the middle of the Amazon, and the only thing I remember is the shrimp I ate at that grocery store. It was piled high on a table a bit higher than myself. I can’t remember if it was dried or salted shrimp – all I know is that it wasn’t fresh and it was edible. I stood beside the table and reached over to grab some. No one noticed me as I started eating the shrimp. I loved it. Shrimp was probably my favourite food growing up. My obsession with it was a source of family jokes at my expense. Some of my aunts and uncles still talk about it. Except when we lived on the northeastern coast, shrimp was a luxury that my family could not always afford. We ate it on special occasions. Or on vacations at the beach.

I was amazed when I moved to Canada to find that shrimp was so cheap here and ubiquitous in every restaurant menu. It was served on salads, soups, pasta dishes, rice dishes, everything seemed to have an option to add shrimp. I couldn’t believe my luck! Disappointment quickly followed. This was not at all like the shrimp I had grown up eating on the coast of Brazil. It was tasteless. It was bland. It didn’t add anything to the dish I was eating. I slowly stopped ordering it. It was only after I started buying fish at Hooked that I came across tasty shrimp again.  During a visit to Mississippi I was able to try some gulf shrimp and reminded of how much I loved it.

What was wrong then with all those tasteless shrimp on restaurant menus? Most of them were farmed shrimp produced in places like Indonesia and Vietnam. Shrimp that is grown quickly with the use of hormones (customers want size) and antibiotics to withstand the toxic environment. Not only is the shrimp produced in less than ideal circumstances (which may be the reason why much of it is tasteless), along the supply chain we find terrible human exploitation, even slavery. Corey Mintz’s article on Toronto Life on “The high price of cheap shrimp” lists many of the problems in that industry. He also interviews many local chefs here in Toronto on how they source their shrimp, a useful primer for those of us who want to be selective and not contribute to the exploitation of others. As for myself, I’ll keep avoiding the cheap shrimp whenever I can.


Roasted squash risotto

I had a small kuri squash sitting on the counter and some short grained brown rice. Inspired by an earlier recipe I made a while back, I decided to put my instant pot to the test and make some brown rice risotto. Normally, when I make risotto with short grain brown rice, I follow Mark Bittman’s advice of parboiling the rice first. This time I decided to use my instant pot. After opening the squash and removing the seeds, I cut the squash into 1/2-inch slices and roasted it in the oven at 375 F for about 15 minutes per side or until cooked through. While the squash was in the oven, I turned on sauté function on the instant pot and sauteed a diced onion for a few minutes, added 3 tsp of anise seeds, 3 tsp of smoked paprika, 1 cup of tomato purée, 3 tsp of salt and black pepper. I mixed in 2 cups of short grain brown rice and 5 cups of water, mixed well, and cooked it under higher pressure for 22 minutes. By then, the squash was cooked through and I cut the pieces into bite sized pieces. Once the rice was ready (it turned out super creamy!), I mixed in a cup of a sharp cheese such as cheddar or guyère, the squash, and one portobello mushroom I had sauteed earlier (optional). I finished by adjusting the salt and adding a 1/2 cup of fresh parsley. Yummy.


Tomato bean soup

20141102-181654.jpgA couple of weeks ago, I purchased an Instant Pot, a multiuse electric pot that among its many functions, also works as an electric pressure cooker. More on that later. It’s about time I started chronicling the recipes I make in it. This series will start with a simple tomato and bean soup inspired by a recipe in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage VegFearnley-Whittingstall’s recipe was based on a nice-looking roasted tomato sauce recipe in the same book and relies on canned beans to speed up the process. I didn’t have canned beans but did have my electric pressure cooker. So this is what I came up with:

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Stuffing/dressing: la pièce de resistance!


The picture of our Thanksgiving meal says it all: stuffing is a priority at chez A & A. Technically speaking, it ought to be called dressing since it is baked outside the bird – and in this case, there wasn’t even a bird. One of my favourite recipes is an adaptation of a recipe by Pamela Anderson originally published at Fine Cooking magazine. I didn’t have prunes or chestnuts so I adapted. Here’s the result:

1 loaf of bread (I usually use a dense multigrain bread), cut into 3/4 inch cubes
1 lb. thick-sliced bacon, cut into medium dice
2 medium yellow onions, cut into medium dice (about 3 cups)
2 large ribs celery, cut into medium dice (1 cup)
1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
3/4 cup dried cranberries or another dried fruit of your preference
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 Tbs. chopped fresh sage
1 Tbs. lightly chopped fresh thyme
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 cups homemade or low-salt chicken broth
2 large eggs

1. Cut the bread and let it sit in a bowl or tray to dry out a bit. I usually chop the bread in the morning to make the stuffing in the afternoon.

2. Fry the bacon until crisp, remove it from the pan with a slotted spoon, and fry the onions and celery in the bacon fat until soft.

3. Combine the bread cubes, bacon, onions, celery, walnuts, cranberries, herbs, eggs and chicken broth, and mix in until the bread has absorbed all the liquid.

Spread the mixture evenly in a 9×13-inch baking dish, cover with foil, and bake in a 375 F oven until completely heated through, about 30 min. Remove the foil and continue to bake until the dressing is lightly golden brown and crisp on top, about another 20 min.


Orange Cranberry Sauce

Orange Cranberry Sauce with Sherry, Cardamon and Rosemary

Thanksgiving began with making cranberry sauce. I browsed a few recipes online and decided to take what I liked from them and make my own with what I had available:

  • 1 bag of fresh cranberries (I had about 215g of cranberries)
  • 2 oranges
  • 1/4 cup of sherry
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • spring of rosemary
  • 3 cardamon

Combine the cranberries, juice and zest of the two oranges, sherry, sugar, rosemary, and cardamon in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook until the cranberries are soft and the sauce has thickened, about 10 minutes.

Thanksgiving (aka my favourite holiday!)

It’s Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada and all I can think about is food, which is precisely why Thanksgiving is my favourite holiday. A roast, squash, root vegetables of all kinds, dark leafy greens, gravy, and all in season, is too irresistible. The plan for this year is to skip the Turkey and replace it with a Pork pot roast. So this is what I’m making this year:

Guests are bringing dessert and so far I’ve been told there will be angel food cake with seasonal fruits, pumpkin pie, and cinnamon buns. I’ll post pictures and recipes here later as a record for next year.

Fresh spring meal

We have been eating out a lot lately, either invited by friends or because I have been very busy at work. This week is time to reset and recharge with some fresh seasonal vegetables and some pantry staples.

On sunday I made Mark Bittman’s simplest dal with some added rhubarb. A touch of genius! The rhubarb added the right amount of acidity to the dal – a perfect savoury use for all the rhubarb in the market these days. I served it with some brown rice and a fresh green salad with radish.

On monday (today), I made grated the radish with some carrots, orange sweet bell peppers, celery, green onions, and parsley to make a nice crunchy salad to top the green leafs I had left from yesterday. As a main, I roasted sweet potatoes, asparagus, and red peppers seasoned with olive oil, salt, herbs, and harissa and served it with quinoa and topped with tahini dressing.


A good start for the week!

Carreteiro al forn (Brazilian-style baked rice)

I’ve been making a lot of arroz al forn lately. Mostly because I found a good supply of bomb rice and fell in love with my cazuela. I made several versions of arroz al forn – usually with the required combination or pork, chorizo, and blood sausages with chickpeas and potato. Crazy combination of starches, I know, but so delicious. Cooking rice with meat often reminds me of one of my favourite Brazilian dishes – arroz carreteiro, a rice dish cooked with salted beef that is often made with leftover meats from a bbq. The base of the dish is similar – both involve cooking some onions, green pepper, and tomato. Mixing in some broth, meats, and rice. Carreteiro is not made in the oven or with bomba rice but I decided to use the carreteiro inspiration and make it Spanish style. So it’s sort of a Spanish-style Brazilian dish if you will.

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