Saturday, July 23, 2011

musings on a saturday

I woke up early this morning, before the boy and enjoyed a quiet moment with a favorite book. And when the boy came in he cuddled up beside me, snuggling into my "fuzzy" as he calls it (chenielle dressing gown). We got to snuggle for a few quiet minutes in what my guys call a mummy sandwich (Daddy on one side and boy on the other). I got to marvel at how big he's getting and smell his hair (wierd mummy stuff) before I heard "mummy, when are you getting up"? So my quiet time was over.

But - it was sunny today. And warm. Like summer. Which is nice seeing as it's July.

I enjoyed the sunshine in the garden- looked at what's growing. I started to harvest some of my lavender flowers but the bees were out in force

so I left them to it after I picked enough for one bunch. I picked zucchini and radishes.

And found evidence of the phantom zucchini chewer.

And some ripening tomatoes.

The boy and I had a snack and a drink outside in the sun. And then I got to watch the boy try and master his new-to-him supersoaker water gun. And build his road - which after the supersoaker action caused an avalanche which I had to go inspect along with the worm that the backhoe bucket dug up.

And supper was zucchini fritters, braised radishes, roasted new potato wedges along with a baby kale and arugula salad.

I've got apricots preparing to be put into a galette tomorrow and a cake baking in the oven (this one with raspberries) so the house smells all jammy.

Once again the news reminds me of how lucky we are. My thoughts are with the people of Norway, especially those who've lost a loved one in the horrific acts of violence yesterday.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I got carried away

It started with the chutney. I think. Actually it started with the green tomatoes that I froze last summer intending to make this pie again before my beloved’s stomach started acting up. So I put away thoughts of green tomatoes and sausage melded into a pie. But said tomatoes got tired of being put aside and for the past couple of weeks, would regularly fall out of the freezer onto my bare toes. Quite frankly, I was getting a tad annoyed about them. And then I read this. So Sunday morning found me stirring a vinegary batch of green tomato and apple chutney. It never did get to a jammy chutney consistency which I blame entirely on my reducing the recipe to fit the amount of green tomatoes I had and the various substitutions I did. I did the math in my head, which is always dangerous but never mind. Consistency issues aside, it is lovely. I’m planning to eat it with some sharp cheddar and farmhouse bread for lunch in the near future as my attempt at a plowman’s lunch.

But reading about chutney and Indian spices, made me look for a new daal recipe as a previous attempt had turned out soupy and somewhat flavourless. I found this recipe on Heidi’s site and decided to make it. I went and scavenged the last of my garden spinach and chard, used red lentils instead of ivory and curry powder in place of turmeric and away I went. I did heed one of the commenter’s advice which was to add much less water than the recipe indicated and it worked a treat.

It being a grey day, I was more motivated to stay in the kitchen than the garden, so thoughts turned to making a curry using this recipe as the jumping off point, subbing baby cauliflower and broccoli for the beef. At the market, I’d picked up some rapini so that went into the mix as well. Served over brown rice, it was delicious alongside the daal and the chutney. And of course, either the daal or the curry would have been sufficient for us for supper with leftovers aplenty. Ah well. It’s all enough for a week’s worth of lunches for my man which is a good thing.

 Green Tomato and Apple Chutney (adapted from David Lebovitz)
10 ½ oz green tomatoes, cored and cut into chunks
1 apple, cored, and cut into chunks
1/3 c peeled and diced shallots
pinch of hot red new Mexican chili powder
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
1/3 c apple cider vinegar
1/3 c dark brown sugar
1 tbsp black mustard seeds
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground allspice
zest of one lemon

Mix together all the ingredients in a large, non-reactive pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a low boil and cook, stirring frequently, for 45 minutes, until the mixture is thick and jam-like. Once finished, ladle the chutney into clean jars.

chutney cooking

Palak Daal (adapted from Heidi Swanson at 101Cookbooks)
1 c red lentils, picked over and rinsed
2 1/2 c water
1/2 pound spinach and chard, washed and finely chopped
1 tbsp ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 tsp curry powder
1 large pinch of hot red new Mexican chili powder
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp pure red chile powder
more salt to taste
juice of 1/2 a lemon

In a large pot over medium-high heat combine the daal and water. Bring to a boil, then add the spinach, ginger, curry powder, chili powder, and all of the tomatoes. Reduce the heat, and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until the lentils are extremely soft. You may need to add a bit more water during the cooking process to keep the lentils soupy. After an hour and a half, stir in the salt.

In a separate pan, heat the butter and cumin and fry until the cumin seeds start to pop. Now add the red chile powder and fry for another 30 seconds. Add this butter mixture to the lentils and allow to cook for another five minutes. Add the lemon juice and taste, adding more salt if needed.

a steaming bowl of daal
Cauliflower and Broccoli Curry with Rapini (based on the Cooking Canuck)
1 tsp sunflower oil
1 gala apple, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 tbsp chopped fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 1/2 oz. jarred mild curry paste (I used Patak’s)
1 small cauliflower, cut into florets
1 small broccoli, cut into florets
1 bunch rapini, stemmed and chopped (the vegetables should be about 1 ½ lbs together)
1/2 c water
7 oz greek style plain yogurt with 3 oz water added
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp garam masala
2 tbsp water
4 small potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add apple, onion, and ginger to the saucepan. Sauté until the onions are beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add curry paste and garlic. Lower the heat to low, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the cauliflower and broccoli and 1/2 cup water. Increase the heat to medium to medium-high and cook for about 10 minutes. Pour in the yogurt and water mixture. Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn the heat to low.

In a small bowl, combine ground coriander, cumin, and garam masala, along with about 2 tablespoons water. Stir to make a paste. Add the paste and potatoes to the beef mixture. Stir, cover the pot, with the lid ajar, and simmer for approximately 2 hours. After about 30 minutes, add the rapini. Add more water as needed to keep the dish moist. Serve over rice.

vegetable curry with rice and chutney

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

a whole lot of green

Our summer weather, such as it was, has packed up and left. In its’ wake we have grey, cloudy skies and a lot of rain. I tell myself it is better than the sweltering heat that has enveloped most of the rest of North America and it is. And I don’t have to water my plants every day except for the tomatoes that are under cover so they don’t get blight because of all the rain. But our souls are longing for a bit of summer sunshine. And I would think my garden is too but there is much evidence to the contrary. The zucchini are growing – maybe not the zucchini bats I would have in sunshine but lots, enough so that every weekend supper featured zucchini in some form. The radishes have huge greens, the beans are leaping upwards, the potato vines are enormous and the tomatoes are ripening. And the chard and spinach were flowing boxes of green until they were ravaged by me over a couple of days to make a couple of suppers. One supper was chard (and some spinach) fritters. I found the recipe in Ottolenghi’s on-line column and thought they looked interesting. And I knew I had a bunch of chard from the market in the fridge and some growing in my garden.

It takes a lot of chard – 400g in total. So after picking and weighing a few times, I decided to throw some spinach in as well. More picking and weighing until I had a huge mountain of green on my counter.

But really, that was the hardest part of this recipe. And while they may not look very pretty, they are lovely to eat. I made a sauce for them using some greek-style yogurt, lemon juice, a squeeze of honey and some dill. Delicious.

Chard (and Spinach) Fritters (adapted from Ottolenghi’s recipe)

400g Swiss chard and spinach, leaves only
a big handful of oregano, basil and thyme from the garden, chopped
1½ tsp grated nutmeg
½ tsp sugar
3 tbsp flour
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 free-range eggs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
80g feta, broken into small pieces
60ml olive oil

Bring a pan of salted water to a boil, and simmer the chard for five minutes. Drain, squeeze dry, then whizz in a food processor with the herbs, nutmeg, sugar, flour, garlic, eggs, a third of a teaspoon of salt and some pepper. Fold in the feta by hand.

Pour a tablespoon of oil into a frying pan over medium-high heat and spoon in three heaped tablespoons of the mix, one per fritter. Press down gently to shape into fritters, and cook for three to four minutes, turning once, until they take on some colour. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate and repeat with the remaining fritter mix and oil. Serve hot.

Monday, July 18, 2011

more strawberries

Strawberry season is done for now. Sniff. I had some stragglers left the other day, which had been cast aside in favour of new raspberries and cherries. Still, I couldn't abandon the strawberries so I made this cake. I made a previous version using yogurt instead of milk as for some reason I was out of milk. That version was delicious but I'd slightly overbaked it. The second one is still being eaten by my man. Mmmmmpf he says through the crumbs.

Strawberry Summer Cake (adapted slightly from Smitten Kitchen)

6 tbsp butter
1 1/2 c flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
7/8 c plus 2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 c milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 10-inch springform pan.
Whisk flour or flours, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl. In a larger bowl, beat butter and 1 cup sugar until pale and fluffy with an electric mixer, about 3 minutes. Mix in egg, milk and vanilla until just combined. Add dry mixture gradually, mixing until just smooth.

Pour into prepared pan. Arrange strawberries, cut side down, on top of batter, as closely as possible in a single layer. Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons sugar over berries.

Bake cake for 10 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 325°F and bake cake until golden brown and a tester comes out free of wet batter, about 50 minutes to 60 minutes.  Let cool in pan on a rack.

Monday, July 11, 2011

strawberry pancakes for canada day

July 1st is a holiday in these parts - to celebrate Canada Day. On a whim, I made a batch of pancakes from our family recipe, something we used to have about once a month as children and something my father was in charge of cooking. The recipe comes from a book - The Canadian Cookbook - and the family copy of the book has many calculations along side the recipe, multiplications or divisions of the original recipe to adjust the number of servings. When my brother took over the pancake duties from our Dad, he would add "surprises" - usually raisins to the batter. Now, he and his family regularly have pancakes and my English nephews love maple syrup. When we visit we pack our suitcases full of bottles of Canadian maple syrup for their pancakes. It's always eagerly anticipated and usually means pancakes soon after our arrival. My brother does say that English flour does not produce fluffy pancakes. Apparently for fluffy pancakes, Canadian flour is required.

Pancakes (from The Canadian Cookbook)

1 1/2 cups of flour
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp sugar
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
2 beaten eggs
3 tbsp melted butter
1-1 1/4 cups of milk

Mix and sift dry ingredients. Beat egg, add milk and butter. Combine to make a batter. Cook the pancakes.

I added sliced strawberries to the batter, once the pancakes were in the pan, cooking - as I had a flat of strawberries sitting on the counter. The inspiration came from here. And then it struck me that I had made strawberry pancakes for Canada Day. They are delicious served with warm maple syrup.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

more felt fun

A friend gave birth to a little girl about a month ago so I made a little felt sheep and yesterday, sat out in the sunshine to make a dress to complete the sheep (along with a tooth fairy pocket).

I found some pieces and made a patchwork kind of dress as I didn't have a full piece big enough to make the dress but I thought this was cuter than a single colour.

A few weeks ago, I got a blackberry for work and I noticed that the screen was getting a bit bashed around so thought about getting a case for it. Then I thought, why not make one from felt? So I did and I like it. And if I leave it behind, everyone will know it's mine.

market inspired Sunday supper

Last Sunday, I pulled chicken out of the freezer for dinner. I was going to make Luisa's mustard chicken but I usually do it with chicken thighs and I'd pulled out a pack of chicken breasts. And in my prize basket, I found a small jar of Mexican spice rub and a jar of mango salsa so I thought I would make chicken tacos. I cut the chicken into strips, seasoned with salt, pepper and the spice rub. Then I marinated it for 45 minutes in plain yogurt and lime zest. To finish, I sauted it until cooked.

The tacos were made by adding grated sharp cheddar, chicken, mango salsa, spicy arugula (from the market) and a bit of sour cream to small flour tortillas. These were yummy served with roasted new nugget potatoes and braised radishes.

I bought a couple of bunches of radishes at the market, half remembering this recipe. It was so easy to make and deliciously different. This one is a keeper.

For dessert, I served strawberry mini pavlovas with local strawberries.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

little savory cakes

I’ve been trying to incorporate different grains into our eating lately and quinoa is one of them. The first recipe I tried with it turned out dry and not so tempting so I was a bit leary of trying more quinoa. But I kept  reading lovely recipes on line. When I came across this blog post from Tara, with the mouthwatering pictures, I decided to give this recipe a go.

It worked, we liked it and it went into the file to make again. And following advice from Dana, I cooked extra quinoa the first time I made them, so last night, I just pulled a bag out of the freezer so one step was already done.

Quinoa cakes (from Tara at sevenspoons, from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day)
2 1/2 c cooked quinoa, at room temperature (I used red quinoa)
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp fine-grain sea salt
1/3 c finely chopped fresh chives
1 yellow or white onion, finely chopped
1/3 c g freshly grated Gruyère cheese
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 c whole grain bread crumbs, plus more if needed
1 tbsp olive oil

Combine the quinoa, eggs, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in the chives, onion, cheese, and garlic. Add the bread crumbs, stir, and let sit for a few minutes sot that the crumbs can absorb some of the moisture. At this point, you should have a mixture you can easily form into patties. I’ve used a cookie batter scoop and my quarter cup measuring cup to form patties and both worked and form about 12 patties.

Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-low heat, add 6 patties, if they'll fit with some room between each, cover, and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, until the bottoms are deeply browned. Carefully flip the patties with a spatula and cook the second sides for 7 minutes, or until golden.

We had the patties over pea puree (inspired by this recipe) last night served alongside roasted asparagus and lemony hollandaise.

Leftover patties can be reheated and enjoyed as a lunch or snack.

Monday, July 4, 2011

they liked this one

Another month and another cooking competition at the market. The month's was best sweet loaf. Now one of my quirks is that because this is a market competition I try and use recipes that feature things from the market. I looked through lots of loaf recipes, and almost every other one was for some kind of lemon loaf. I figured there would be at least one lemon loaf competitor (I was right) and wanted something different. Initially I thought I would do one of our favorite loaves but pumpkin didn't really seem summery enough for July. In the end, inspiration came from my garden and the multitude of zucchini growing. So the other day I harvested the biggest three zucchini

and made this zucchini bread. The recipe is very similar to the pumpkin loaf. I made two loaves, one for the market and one for us. The one for us featured a big handful of chocolate chips stirred through it and is a big hit with the boy and the man.

Zucchini Bread (from Smitten Kitchen)
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 cups grated zucchini
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
~ 1/2 c chocolate chips 

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Grease two loaf pans.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk. Mix in oil and sugar, then zucchini and vanilla.

Combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and chocolate chips. Stir this into the egg mixture. Divide the batter into prepared pans.

Bake loaves for 60 minutes, plus or minus ten, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

PS - I won. Pictured below is my prize basket which included local strawberries, mixed greens, peas, baby turnips, a jar of hot mango salsa, a jar of spice rub, a brown bag filled with cookies, a bottle of ginger beer and a neck pillow.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

feet painting

 When we got home from running our errands today, I was looking forward to spending some time outside in the garden, hoping to read a bit. The boy announced he wanted to do some painting and appeared with his giant roll of art paper and started looking for his paints. We found paints and a brush and the paint water cup and as it was beautiful, warm and sunny outside, I suggested he paint outside. He wasn't sure about that idea but we set up outside. Then a bug walked across the paper and some dirt flew on the paper and he really wasn't too sure about the whole idea. He wanted to do a green skeltine (skeleton) but changed his mind. He ended up doing a feet painting. He painted the picture

 and then ran across it and around the patio and back across the painting and so on and so on.

He did two big paintings before this got old. Before he was allowed back in the house, we had to wash his feet off

- which naturally involved the hose and the sprinkler head and the boy getting absolutely soaked. Then it was off to build heavy haulers out of Lego with Daddy. And I got to clean the paint off the patio (thank goodness for washable paint).