Thursday, February 25, 2010

Finally, a night off to cook for myself

So I have had a couple of nights off in the past week - Sunday I made red lentils with fried cabbage and caramelized onions (and a bunch of cumin) from one of my new favorite food blogs:

Then I have been working nights since then. Tonight was my first night off at home alone for awhile, and I ended up reading smitten kitchen and then making dinner. A simple salad of red leaf lettuce, blue cheese, walnuts, thinly sliced red onion and apple, with a kozlics bordeaux mustard vinagrette. Roasted spaghetti squash and a basic tomato sauce - one chopped leek and 3 garlic cloves, sauteed for 5-10 minutes in olive oil, then add a can of italian plum tomatoes (whole, crushed by hand), some salt, and simmer for awhile...??? until your desired consistency is reached i suppose. I like my tomato sauces pretty loose, and I love this one because it gives simple, pure, intense tomato flavour. Added a sprinkle of red pepper flakes at the end, after cooking for maybe 45 minutes? In this case I acutally wanted a bit of a thicker sauce - because I was eating it with squash which can be a bit watery itself - so was lucky that the can of tomatoes I used had a thicker juice.
THEN - even though I'm already stuffed (!) I made a mini-apple crisp. Realized late in the process that I don't have rolled oats (what?) so I used wheat bran instead. When I was growing up my mom always made apple crisp with just a brown sugar/butter/flour topping, so the oat thing came later for me anyway. This ended up being delicious! And I'm not always great with fruit crisps - they often turn into fruit soups with a crumble topping. In this case I:

Cut 3 1/2 apples (empire and spartan) into 8ths, then halved/quartered those.
Buttered a SMALL glass baking dish (15x23 cm) and put the apple pieces in, with a ton of cinnamon (didn't realize the shaker-lid thing wasn't on!), a sprinkling of whole wheat flour, pinch of salt and squeeze of lemon juice.
Topped this with 1/3 cup wheat bran, bit less than 1/3 cup whole wheat flour, 1/3 cup brown sugar (unpacked), mixed with ~2 tbsps melted butter. Crumbled a bit of cold butter on top, then baked for about 30 minutes at ~375.

And YUM! I could have maybe cooked it a bit less as I like a bit of bite to my fruit, but the crumble topping is delicious, and the fruit part is neither soggy nor too dry. AND it's just the right amount for 2 servings. Now if only I had ice cream, although I think it's pretty un-necessary.

Also toasted the squash seeds at the same time, which I am now snacking on despite the lack of room in my belly. Good thing I did yoga earlier!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

chickpea noodle soup

So I woke up this morning with a sore throat and stuffy nose. I guess I have finally succumbed to the winter cold - but I really can't complain as it's mid-February and I haven't really been sick in several seasons. But I'm craving a hot, brothy, mildly-spicy soup. Wasn't sure what I wanted exactly, just that I'm pretty tired and bored of all the soups in my repertoire. So I went to the store and bought a ton of veg for 10$! which I am super excited about - parsnips, onions, leeks, savoy cabbage, sweet potatoes, a red chili, garlic + a can of tomatoes and 2 grapefruit. Did I mention that was all for 10$! (paid for with a xmas gift card, so FREE to me!)

The other day I cooked some chickpeas, with bay leaf, celery, garlic, parsley, and peppercorn, thinking that I would make some channa masala. Instead I made saag paneer (tofu instead of paneer) last night, and I decided to go with a spicy chickpea noodle soup tonight to satisfy my sore-throat related cravings. Was planning on making veg stock tonight anyway, but a colleague said, it might not be worth the effort. I DO love making it. And try to do so once a week or two. But if you are making soup anyway, what's the point of boiling all that veg, throwing it out, then cooking more veg in that liquid for the soup? I understand it contributes to depth of flavour...and I'm certainly not over veg stock! But, perhaps, it's not always necessary. In any case, I had the liquid from the chickpeas, so I used that.

I really wish I had a working camera - I searched for an old one, but must have lost it in multiple moves over the past year. All my chopped up veg looked so pretty :) Anyway, I sauteed:

1 leek
1 medium onion
1 large carrot
2 stalks celery
1 large parsnip
~all chopped/diced into smallish pieces
5-6 garlic cloves (no such thing as too much, if you ask me)
in 1-2 tbsps canola oil (I really need to research the best oils health-wise. I usually use olive oil for everything, but I know it doesn't have the best smoking point. So I want to look into canola vs. sunflower vs. peanut etc)
then added:
2 cups water
1/2 minced red chili

2 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (cooked in the aforementioned broth)
4 cups chickpea cooking liquid

and then 2 more cups water b/c it seemed pretty full on chickpeas.

boil, then simmer for awhile....

Add some chopped savoy cabbage ~2 cups
and some chopped parsley ~ 1 cup

simmer more....

haha this is usually how my recipes go, I suppose I should figure it out before posting! But I think each one is always a trial. So maybe this blog is more for me, like a continuation of my kitchen journal. It always takes a few times to get something *right* - or to your taste that is, perhaps there is no RIGHT.

So at the end, I added another 1-2 cups of water, and some chili flakes.
OH! and, importantly, if you want it to be noodle soup, some noodles:
1 big handful of thin egg noodles, about 10-20 minutes before the end of cooking.

It's pretty yummy! Just what I need right now :)
you could of course, add fresh pasta, barley, cooked rice, whatever you like or have on hand. I was just craving a basic noodle soup due to my cold - ironically enough, since it's so simple and I'm so sick of all my other soups.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

fleur de sel!

No recipes here! Just wanted to post to say that I am absolutely in love with fleur de sel. I picked up a small bag in Paris a year in a half ago, and barely use it, considering it one of those special occasion type things. But, someone at work recently posted an article from I believe the Toronto Star, with recipes for bitter seville orange marmalade. I'm not a big jam person (despite my canning efforts last summer), or *sweet* person in general, preferring savour, salty delights. However, I was inspired by this article the next time I was browsing at the grocery store and picked up a (what I hoped was) quality jar of seville orange marmalade. One of my new favourite breakfeast treats is this bitter marmalade on toast, with butter, topped with a (generous) sprinkle of fleur de sel.

And, I have been craving a deep, intense chocolate dessert this past week - perhaps due to the chocolate panna cotta winterlicious dessert we are currently serving, or maybe simply hormonal cycles. Due to laziness, and preoccupation with other matters, I opted tonight to instead eat chunky peanut butter, again generously sprinkled with fleur de sel, off a spoon with semi-sweet chocolate chunks! Wow guilty pleasure - not my usual fare, I promise you. BUT - I credit the fleur de sel for bringing it up above and beyond. What else can I possibly use this treasure for?!

disclaimer: I will actually post recipes, and not random late-night snacking (accidents?) soon!

first post

I never really pictured myself as a "blogger" - but I love food and cooking, dabble in gardening and growing food...and wouldn't mind sharing these exploits with others. Don't have much to share now; I have cooked a bit more in the last week - veggie lasagna, minestrone soup, split pea soup - but don't always find the time, as I work in the restaurant industry and therefore only have a couple nights a week to cook. I also need to get a working camera to share updated photos, for now will have to suffice with old gardening pics! Recipes soon :)