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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!

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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.

Continue reading Carreteiro al forn (Brazilian-style baked rice)

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Meatloaf and maple-glazed carrots

It’s been crazy busy chez nous these days and what better way to feel a bit more in control than to cook a meal that can serve as basis for future meals? Sunday I cooked a big pot of beans in the slow cooker, roasted some beets and made a quinoa beet salad. We had the beans with rice for dinner on Sunday and lunch on Monday and the quinoa salad for dinner on monday night. The past few days have been very cold once again and the body begged for something more comforting that rice and beans. Something more decadent. How about some meatloaf? I turn to Mark Bittman for some suggestions and he does not disappoint: he pairs his meatloaf with maple-glazed carrots.  My only change to the original recipe published in his How to Cook Everything was to add a bit of steak spice. I cannot describe how tasty this meatloaf was. Alan did not put ketchup on it. That’s how good it was. And the carrots? Genius. I’ll be definitely be making it for thanksgiving and Christmas meals for now on.

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Shrimps with scallions

This is based on the recipe Shrimps with scallions and fenugreek leaves (jheenga methi) from the book Fifty Great Curries of India by Camellia Panjabi. I couldn’t find fenugreek leaves so I replaced it with parsley (cilantro might be better but my husband hates it).

Ingredients

1 cup scallions, chopped (green and white parts)

3/4 tsp salt

3/4 tsp turmeric powder

3/4 tsp chili powder

1 tbsp lemon or lime juice

14 oz uncooked shelled shrimp

3 tbsp oil

1-2 green chiles, finely chopped

2 large garlic cloves

1/2 inch piece of ginger, finely chopped

3/4 cup parley or cilantro

1 tap lime juice (optional)

Directions

  1. mix 1/4 cup of water, 1/2 tsp turmeric, red chile powder, lemon juice, and 1/4 tsp salt in a  bowl. Add the shrimp and let marinade in the fridge for at least 30 mins
  2. In a skillet, heat the oil, and add the white part of the scallions, chiles, garlic,  and ginger. Sauté on medium heat for 3-4 minutes or until the scallions are translucent. Add the remaining turmeric powder and 1 tbsp water and cook for another minute.
  3. Add the parsley, scallions, and 1/4 tsp of salt and stir-fry for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the shrimp and sauté for another 3 minutes. Add one cup of water, reduce the heat, and simmer until the shrimp is cooked through. Taste and add more salt and lime if desired.
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Kale, bacon, and walnut cornbread dressing

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.

Ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 lb thick cut bacon
2 handfulls of walnuts
1 bunch of kale, washed, stems removed, and shredded
2 onions, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 stalks celery, finely chopped
Gluten-Free Cornbread
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
1tsp dried oregano
4 large eggs
2 cups homemade or low-sodium canned chicken stock
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat a large pan with the olive oil. Dice the bacon and fry until cooked. Remove all but 1 tbsp of the bacon fat. Add onions, garlic, and celery; cook over medium heat until just tender, about 8 minutes. Mix in kale until wilted
  2. Crumble the cornbread into a large bowl, and add the onion and kale mixture, parsley, thyme, oregano, chopped walnuts, eggs, chicken stock, salt, and pepper. Stir until well combined.
  3. Transfer mixture to a buttered large casserole or lasagna dish, and bake until golden on top and cooked through, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven, and serve hot.
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Vinegar drinks (aka shrub)

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!

 

 

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Homemade ricotta

UntitledI’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.

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Mung bean curry

Mung bean curry #foodIt 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.

Ingredients

300g dried mung beans (the original recipe was 220g, I had a bit more and used it all)
1 small can chopped tomatoes
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Salt to taste
Handful fresh coriander, chopped (optional)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
5-6 fresh curry leaves
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 onion, sliced
1 medium hot chillies, (minced if you like your curry hot, I cut mine in half since hubby doesnt like it spicy).

Directions

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.

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Plain loaf cake

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.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups of flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1tbsp lemon peel
  • 3/4 cup greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

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.

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Thursday – Day four

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.

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