On The Hunt for Simplicity [Vegan Mexican Chocolate Sorbet]
Most of the recipes on this here blog are come by organically. Whether it be a dish that tells a story of where I am at some point, a bundle of asparagus that moves me to do some research and make something new, or a particularly moving line in a book (My Berlin Kitchen, these days) that sends me reeling for the kitchen, apron barely tied before I start rummaging through cupboards and tossing things into a basket to be turned into dinner.
But sometimes, when I’m too easily convinced that the couch is better than the grocery store, I go on the hunt. Looking for the perfect recipe, one that requires little more than what’s already housed in our kitchen. There are a few places I typically look, Food52 being one of my main one-stop-shops. They run the gamut of recipes, from 3 ingredient dishes, to full on dinner party menus that would stress even the greatest cooks. I tend towards the simpler, less involved varieties. Less is more in my life these days, and I’m sure you’ll agree that summer yearns for the simpler things.
When I stumbled on the recipe for David Lebovitz’s Chocolate Sorbet, I knew I’d hit the motherload. Six ingredients (plus a few extras I chose to add in), very little hands-on time, and the resulting sorbet is impossibly creamy (like real ice cream), dark and cocoa-y, and rich beyond any sorbet I’ve tried. I knew I’d met my match immediately. And off I went, boiling and whisking, churning and freezing. This may just be my new favourite summer fling.
Vegan Mexican Chocolate Sorbet
recipe adapted from David Lebovitz via Food52
makes 2 pints
I made two pints of this because…well… more is more sometimes? I knew it would disappear fast in our freezer and I wanted to be sure I actually got to eat some of it before it was gone. Feel free to halve it based on the initial recipe if you’d like.
As I said, using the best cocoa, dark chocolate (with no milk ingredients if you’re concerned about it being vegan), spices and vanilla is important here. It will make all the difference. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, you can read David’s tips on how to churn by hand here.
4 1/2 cups water
2 cups sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (+/- depending on heat-tolerance)
1 1/2 cups dutch-process cocoa powder
2 cups roughly chopped high quality dark chocolate (semi-sweet or bittersweet)
1 tsp vanilla extract
In a large saucepan, add half of the water (2 1/4 cups), the sugar, spices and cinnamon. Bring to a boil, whisking often, and when it comes to a boil, let it bubble away for 45 seconds as you whisk constantly.
Remove from heat, stir in the chocolate and whisk until combined. Add the vanilla and the rest of the water. Transfer to a blender and blend for 15 seconds on high (don’t skip this step! Something science-y happens and I won’t try to explain it, but it makes a big difference in the overall texture of the sorbet). Chill completely in the fridge.
Pour into your prepared ice cream machine and freeze according to your machine’s manufacturer instructions (mine called for a 20-30 minute churn followed by a 6 hour stint in the freezer to firm it up).
Serve with a few flecks of salt.
To Mayo or Not to Mayo [Roasted Onion & Fingerling Potato Salad with Chopped-Egg and Herb Dressing]
While the thick, goopy glop that makes some people (many of my friends and boyfriend included) cringe, I happily sop it up with whatever starchy item is within reach. I grew up on it, and it reminds me of the black forest ham sandwiches my Dad used to make me for lunch in elementary school. If given the choice between creamy or vinegary based salads, the tart vinegar-dressed salads don’t even stand a chance.
This potato salad is one of few exceptions. Even I’m surprised at how little I miss the husky dressing of my typical picnic fare. The crispy, cumin scented fingerling potatoes are garbed in a vinegary dressing studded with chopped egg and bright, fragrant herbs. It’s fresh, fragrant and reminds me of summer - the perfect dish to bring to a barbecue or dinner al fresco. If you love a classic potato salad that’s rich and satisfying, you won’t miss a thing with this updated version. And if you can manage to save enough to share, you’re a better (wo)man than me.
Roasted Onion & Fingerling Potato Salad with Chopped-Egg and Herb Dressing
adapted from Bon Appetit
Potatoes and Onions
3 cups fingerling potatoes, sliced lengthwise
2 small yellow or brown onions, sliced lengthwise into thin wedges
3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
½ tsp cumin seeds
1 ½ tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp olive oil
2 hardboiled eggs, roughly chopped
2 tbsp tarragon, roughly chopped
3 green onions, sliced thin (green + white parts)
¼ cup loosely packed parsley, roughly chopped
microgreens, for garnish (optional)
Preheat oven to 400. Toss the sliced potatoes and onions with the garlic, a few good glugs of olive oil, a few pinches of salt and the cumin. Place in a large roasting pan so everything can spread out and get crisp on the pan. Roast for 25-30 minutes or until potatoes are golden and crisp around the edges. Onions will be soft and mellow, charred in some spots.
While the potato mix roasts, whisk together your mustard, vinegar and olive oil until it’s emulsified. It’s ok if it breaks a little, it’ll all come together in the end. Gently toss together the chopped eggs, tarragon, green onions and parsley. Add the vinaigrette to the herbs and fold together.
Remove potatoes from the oven. You can either toss them with the egg/herb dressing or pour it over the top. Both options work but I loved the look of the rustic dressing over the eggs. As you serve the salad, the dressing will sink into the potatoes and onions. Top with microgreens, if using, and serve while still hot.
A Misplaced Groove [Midnight Mule]
Sooooo…hi. I’ve come to apologize for being such a pathetic excuse for a “food” blogger lately. I don’t know when this became a cocktail blog or when I became such a lush (always), but it’s taking me a bit longer to feel comfortable in my new kitchen than I thought it would.
Things aren’t where they belong, some buried in boxes, some just not where I’m used to them being. I start most days feeling motivated to get it figured out, but 5 minutes in I find myself standing in the middle of the room, scratching my head and feeling overwhelmed by the task of making it “work”. I had no idea moving into a new apartment would create such a lull in my cooking.
I’ve been eating a lot of hummus. A lot. Sometimes buried in tomatoes and fresh herbs, drizzled in the richest of olive oils, and sometimes I eat it out of a bowl with a spoon, plain as the day is long. It’s all I want these days and one of the few things I find myself cooking, if such a simple thing can be considered cooking. I wonder if I’ve forgotten my groove at our old place. If only it were as easy as walking the 60-some steps and grabbing it like I do our mail, there it would be, dog-eared and tucked between a few flyers and bills. I’m hopeful it’s simply hiding away in a box, waiting for me to dust it off and place on the counter where it belongs.
Until then, let’s have a drink. This Midnight Mule is one of my new favourites (of which I have many). It combines sweet, syrupy cognac-roasted cherries, a rich and spicy root beer syrup, fizzy root beer and more cognac. The root beer syrup, which is just reduced, concentrated root beer, is heavily spiced and rich, making this drink on the heavier side. It tends to hang about on your tongue so while it is most definitely delicious, it’s best served as an aperitif or something enjoyed on a rainy, gray afternoon rather than a cocktail to sip throughout the night. If you don’t love root beer, I can’t say this will make you love it any more. But if, like me, you feel delight in company of the warm, potent flavours of sassafras root, cinnamon bark, star anise, and vanilla - you best be heading to the store for some cherries. The thrill of biting down onto a cognac-sodden cherry, tart against the spicy root beer, is my favourite aspect of this mule. Imbibe away, my dears. I will return to you with real recipes soon - I promise.
I do suggest you use a high quality root beer in this recipe. We’re lucky to have a rep for Nickelbrook Brewery (Burlington, ON), my friend Justin, in Ottawa. He hand-delivered some of this stellar soda to my door so I could play around with it a bit. While you can’t buy it in bottles (yet), you can get it on tap around town. Seek out local soda-producers and you might be surprised at what you can find!
For the cocktail:
roasted cherries, recipe follows
root beer syrup, recipe follows
4 ounces Cognac
Place a heaping 2 tablespoons of roasted cherries in the bottom of a lowball glass. Muddle gently until cherries are in small enough pieces that you can get some while you sip. To each glass add crushed ice, 1/2 tsp of root beer syrup, 1 ounce of cognac. Top with root beer and give a quick stir. Retire to a comfy spot and enjoy.
Cognac Roasted Cherries
2 cups fresh cherries, pitted
2 tbsp cognac
2 tbsp brown sugar
Preheat oven to 450.
Toss cherries with cognac and sugar and roast in a deep pan for 10-12 minutes. Pour cherries and juices into a bowl and place in the fridge until cold.
Root Beer Syrup
1 bottle (341mL) root beer (about 1 1/2 cups)
Pour root beer into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and let reduce until only about 2-3 tbsp remain. It should be very thick and syrupy. Pour into a small dish and place in the fridge to cool.
New Homes, Routines and Fiddleheads [Crispy Baked Fiddleheads with Spicy Lemon-Sumac Yogurt Dipping Sauce]
So, we made it.
After one of the longest weekends of my life, we are in our new apartment, our life piled high around us in teetering boxes, taunting us constantly.
I don’t always adjust to change well. I like my routine and I get a bit loopy when it gets adjusted. I feel a bit out of control and my anxiety starts weighing heavier than usual. Saturday night I made myself walk the dog in order to remind my brain that I was in the same city, the same neighbourhood (we moved one block over… ridiculous, I know), and there was no need to feel so overwhelmed. I came home feeling more relaxed and ready to start settling into our new home. It’s a slow process and we’re trying to find a balance between wasting ourselves by getting it all done in a matter of days, and being too lax about it and living with boxes for 6 months. I didn’t think it was possible to love a place more than our old apartment, despite seemingly being the only one who felt such joy from it, but our new place is open and airy, bright and welcoming. It’s on a main floor and just feels so much more like home than living on the 2nd floor. We’re anxious to get everything settled but I remind myself to enjoy the process of nesting, designing, organizing… it really is the best part of moving.
I made our first home cooked meal last night, Bang Bang Chicken Salad, but didn’t have the brain-capacity to focus on photographing or writing anything down when I made it. So today, while rummaging the crisper, I found some fiddleheads I bought last week. Not wanting them to go bad, I thought today was a good day to use them. But I didn’t want them in pasta, or in a salad… I wanted more for them. I wanted to pop them into my mouth like popcorn chicken and dunk them into a creamy dipping sauce. And so I did.
Breading fiddleheads is really simple and makes a great appetizer or snack (for yourself, as was my case, or for guests) in a hurry. The breadcrumbs are seasoned with lemon and paprika and the creamy Greek yogurt dipping sauce is good enough to eat with a spoon. I think you’re going to like them and I’m thrilled to share them as my first recipe in our new home. Eat them in good health, friends.
Crispy Baked Fiddleheads with Spicy Lemon-Sumac Yogurt Dipping Sauce
serves 4 as appetizer, 2 as a snack
Sumac is a tangy, crimson coloured spice that’s added to many Middle Eastern dishes to give them a lemony kick. You can find it in some well-stocked grocery stores but otherwise, look in Middle Eastern markets for it.
1 1/2 cups whole wheat breadcrumbs
1/2 tbsp lemon zest
1/4 tsp paprika
pinch salt & fresh ground pepper
Scant 2 cups fiddleheads, rinsed 3x and trimmed
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Lemon-Sumac Yogurt Dipping Sauce
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 clove garlic, minced
juice from 1/2 lemon
zest from 1/2 lemon
1 tsp sumac
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (less if too spicy)
For the bread crumbs:
Stir all ingredients together or pulse in food processor for a uniform consistency. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 400.
Have the beaten eggs in one bowl and a plate with the breadcrumbs nearby. Place the cleaned and dried fiddleheads into the egg mixture and then coat them in breadcrumbs. Place on a rack set above a cookie sheet (this ensures even cooking). Repeat until all fiddleheads are on the rack. Place in the oven and cook for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown and crisp. Let cool.
While the fiddleheads cook, whisk all the dipping sauce ingredients together. Taste and add more salt, lemon or cayenne if needed.
Serve the fiddleheads on a platter with the dip.
2013 Season - Farmers Feast 01 [Ramp, Green Garlic & Asparagus Frittata with Mennonite Sausage]
At the start of the 2012 season at the Ottawa Farmers Market, I embarked on a fun project with them that we titled the “Farmers Feast”, in which I would receive a mystery basket of ingredients, chosen by Tara Simpson - their events coordinator, each month to create a recipe with and share with you all. It started as a bit of an experiment to see if we all enjoyed the outcome of the project and as you can imagine, we did! It was such a treat receiving a different bundle of ingredients, some I had to take a second look at as I wasn’t sure what they were, and develop a recipe using as many of them as I could. We did a full season and were thrilled to start again this year. Needless to say, we couldn’t share the farmers feast if it weren’t for all the hard working farms, artisans and producers who dedicate themselves to growing, feeding and sharing with our city. Maybe you can give them a quiet, two-finger round of applause!
A few weeks back, I went and grabbed my basket from the market. It was literally errupting with great stalks of rhubarb, leafy, emerald green garlic and ramps, thick, meaty asparagus, curly, tangled pea shoots, eggs and a big hunk of mennonite sausage (which could be my new favourite addition to a cheese plate). All of these wonderful things were tucked into a stunning hand-carved bucket with a rope handle from Les Seaux Gadi. I highly recommend checking Claude’s wares out, their uses are endless and they would look so lovely in any home.
The kind, hard-working farmers who donated goods for this first-of-the-season Farmers Feast are:
Avonmore Berry Farm - Ramps
Acorn Creek Garden Farm - Green Garlic
Bearbrook Game Meats - Mennonite Sausage
Just Farms - Asparagus
O’Grady Farms - Pea Sprouts
Needhams Garden Market - Rhubarb
Reinink Farms - Eggs
Glengarry Cheese - Big Brother cheese
Les Seaux Gadi - Bucket
The wonderful thing about spring/summer produce is that you don’t need to mess with it a lot. I decided to throw together a very rustic frittata filled with just about everything from the basket (the rhubarb I saved for something else coming soon!) and it turned out wonderfully. The pungent green garlic and ramps with the earthy asparagus and savoury sausage - everything married so well and came together with the addition of the creamy cheese. I highly suggest using these products, but understand that you’re not all located in Ottawa. So if you’re not in these neck of the woods, I hope you’ll at least take a trip to your local farmers market and seek out something similar.
This season, we’ve decided to give away some market bucks to one lucky guy or gal. Details on how to enter are below, and if your name is chosen, you’ll get to pick out one ingredient/product from one of the vendors who donated goods to this month’s basket (excluding Les Seaux Gadi).
1. Leave a comment below telling me what you would do with one (or all) of the ingredients above.
For extra entries (leave a new comment for each)
1. “Like” Ottawa Farmers Market on Facebook (1 extra entry)
2. Follow @OttawaFarmMkt on Twitter (1 extra entry)
We will pick a winner at random this coming Saturday, May 25th. And now, for the recipe.
Ramp, Green Garlic & Asparagus Frittata with Mennonite Sausage
serves 4-6, depending on appetite
2 good glugs olive or canola oil
1 cup chopped ramps (green and white parts)
2 tbsp chopped green garlic
1 1/2 cups chopped asparagus spears
1/2 cup mennonite sausage, diced
1/2 tbsp lemon zest, optional
8 large eggs
1 cup Glengarry Big Brother cheese, 1/2” cubes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Lemony Pea Shoots
2 cups pea shoots
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
Turn the oven on to broil.
Drizzle a good 2-second pour of canola or olive oil in a pan. Turn the heat on to medium and add the chopped ramps, leeks, asparagus and sausage. Sauté until starting to soften, 5-6 minutes. While that cooks, crack the eggs into a large bowl and whisk gently until combined. Add the cheese to the egg mixture. Pour the eggs into the vegetable mixture and fold gently to combine. Let cook until almost set (the top and center will be runny still), about 4-5 minutes. Place in the oven and let broil until golden brown and puffed up, 3-4 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes, slice and serve topped with the Lemony Pea Shoots (recipe below).
For the Lemony Pea Shoots
Toss the shoots with the olive oil and lemon and top the frittata with them for some added crunch and a way to cut the richness.
[photo provided by Les Seaux Gadi]
Disclaimer: Farmers Feast is a partnership with the Ottawa Farmers Market. I am not compensated beyond the ingredients given from the market. Opinions expressed are mine.
Moving and a Cocktail [The Victorian]
The Friday before a long weekend is always rough. I can feel the anxiousness in my muscles, twitching and squirming and trying to maintain composure. It feels almost like the last month before summer holiday when I was in elementary school.
We move next weekend and from tomorrow until next Saturday I will be buried in boxes and packing tape and eating off paper plates and wearing the same jeans and t-shirt everyday and generally just losing my mind as is the case for control freaks like me when their worlds get tossed upside down. (you can tell by the run-on sentences that I’m already borderline losing it). I’ll have one more post coming Tuesday and then *poof* - I’ll be gone for a wee bit. Nesting, as they call it, and trying to pick through the boxes that contain my life.
Today, I bring you booze. Mostly because I need it, but I figured you probably do, too. Don’t make me imbibe all alone, guys. This cocktail, which was unnamed until we called it The Victorian, comes from my boyfriend’s colleague at MacKinnon Reid & Associates, a landscape contracting and design company. He first started working with Katie, an all-knowing horticulturalist that’s taught Al so much in just a few short weeks, when he told her he was making me dinner for a date night last week. Knowing he wouldn’t remember the recipe, he recorded her explanation of the cocktail so he could recreate it without fault. The instructions were concise and specific. 2 ice cubes, crushed… but only two. He followed it to a tee, even though I was slightly hesitant, complaining that I wasn’t a big fan of martinis and this sounded suspiciously similar. The result? Clean, refreshing flavour that got it’s delicate sweetness from a crisp white wine, a floral, earthy kick from the gin and a slight savory hint just at the back of your throat from a splash of vermouth. It was lovely. I was shocked at how much I enjoyed it. Gin and wine?! I never would have combined the two. I certainly never would have imagined the two married so well together. So I decided I would share it with you. Katie has planted Victorian gardens throughout Ottawa so we named this The Victorian for that reason. I hope you enjoy it and thank you, Katie, for sharing our new favourite summer sipper.
based on recipe from Katie Andrews
makes 1 cocktail
Katie makes her own White Pear Pinot Grigio for this, but any sweet white wine will do. Feel free to try with a dryer variety, but I tend to like the sweetness this offers.
I garnished this with lemon balm from the garden, but the recipe did not call for it. I mostly used it for the kick of colour.
2 ice cubes, crushed
2 ounces sweet white wine (moscato, riesling or even a sweet pinot grigio would work)
1 ounce gin
1/2 ounce vermouth
Place the crushed ice in a martini or other short glass. Top with the wine, gin and vermouth and swirl to combine. Sip and enjoy.
Saying Yes, Meaning No [Black Rice and Mushroom Burgers with Cucumber Garlic Yogurt]
I’m a yes girl.
Saying no has always been a task that stirred my anxiety (surprise, surprise). I don’t like to disappoint people and for some strange reason, saying no made me feel like I was letting someone down or hurting their feelings. It didn’t matter the invitation, I felt wholly obligated to say yes lest I disappoint the host, the organizer, my peers or even my family.
As I travel the bumps and rockier roads of adulthood, I’m realizing more and more than “no” has a valuable place in my vocabulary. Saying yes to everything may mean meeting more people, some of them truly wonderful, attending events that I take precious information away from, experiencing things I wouldn’t have known otherwise, and catching up with old friends, but it leaves me wondering: where in all those yes’s do the invaluable people and things that are already in my life fit in? The ones who have seen me through the highest of highs and some very dark lows. Shouldn’t my yes’s be reserved for them more often than strangers and
events I have no interest in? And for the people and things that I love?
Saying yes constantly had been leaving me heavy with agitation. I knew I didn’t want to say yes to all these request but I said it anyways. I was frequently disappointed in myself for cowering behind my inability to stand up for what I wanted, and I felt angry that I now had to attend or work on something that didn’t interest me in any way. It was a double-whammy of frustration and who got to feel the brunt of it? Those nearest to me. The ones who had to listen to me bitch and moan about having to attend this or do that even though I was the one who agreed to it in the first place.
With a certain reluctance, I’ve started saying no. At first, it tumbled awkwardly off my tongue and left a bitter taste, but the more I practiced the more confident my no’s became and the lighter my shoulders got. In the end, I’m the only one who’s accountable for the decision I make - not the people who asked in the first place or my poor friends who had to lend an ear to the protests. I’m learning to save my yes’s for the people and things that bring me joy - and there are so many. If I want to say no to an event that everyone is attending so I can sit at home curled into Al watching 4 episodes of Game of Thrones - I’m going to. And I’m not going to feel badly about it, either. If it means I miss events, that’s alright too. The great thing about events is that there will always be more. Always. There is no guarantee that there will always be more nights spent on the porch with my best friend, our laughs keeping the neighbours up, or more dinners in my mom’s backyard by the pool, margaritas with my sister, baseball games with my dad or dinner dates with Al. Those are what my yes’s should be reserved for. That, and doing just this. Coming here and having the time to talk, for real, about what’s going on. Time to focus on creating dishes and photos I’m proud of. Things I was missing by being too afraid to say no.
Of course, life comes with obligations and there are times when yes is all I can say. Likewise, there are times when I do really want to say yes to the events and the dinners. And that’s ok, too. I’m learning, albeit slowly, to go with my gut and trust what it’s urging me towards.
And today, my gut urged me towards veggie burgers. Ones that I made on the fly and used what I had for. Nutty Japonica rice, a blend of medium-grain black and short-grain mahogany rice, and earthy mushrooms speckled with a Turkish baharat blend. Topped with a cool garlic cucumber yogurt that I tried relentlessly not to scoop up with a spoon and eat before the burgers were ready. These are good. You should probably say YES to them.
Black Rice and Mushroom Burgers with Cucumber Garlic Yogurt
makes 8 sliders, 4 large burgers
2 cups diced button mushrooms
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp baharat spice, recipe follows
1 cup cooked black or mahogany rice (brown rice is fine, too)
1 large carrot, grated
1/2 tbsp lemon zest (1/2 large lemon)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or more if you like it hot)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
1/4 cup chopped parsley
salt and pepper, to taste
Vegetable oil, to pan-fry
Ideas to serve:
4 large (8 small) buns of your choice
sprouts (I used pea shoots)
Drizzle a heavy skillet over med-high heat with vegetable oil and add the mushrooms and onions. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until liquid has released and evaporated and the mushrooms and onions are starting to brown. Add the garlic and baharat spice and stir to combine. Cook another 1-2 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes.
Mix the cooked rice and mushroom mixture with the carrot, cayenne, egg, bread crumbs, parsley and a few generous pinches of salt and pepper. If the mixture is a bit wet, add more breadcrumbs or a bit of flour to help dry them out a bit. Form into patties and pan fry on a heavy skillet drizzled with vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Cook for 5-6 minutes or until golden brown on to bottom. Flip and brown the other side. Place on a bun slathered with yogurt sauce and topped with whatever you like most.
Cucumber Garlic Yogurt Sauce
makes 1 cup
3” piece of english cucumber, grated
1 cup Greek yogurt (must be Greek)
1 large or 2 small cloves garlic
Squeeze as much moisture from the grated cucumber as you can. Place in a food processor (or bullet/blender) with the yogurt and garlic and blend until smooth.
makes about 1/3 cup
“Baharat” literally means “spice” in Arabic. There are many different varieties but I prefer this Turkish style blend. If you have the time, toasting your coriander and cumin and grinding them fresh makes a huge difference in the flavour here.
1 1/2 tablespoons dried mint
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
Mix all ingredients and store in an airtight jar.
Knock Out That Cold [Spicy Kale Ginger Lemonade]
There is something ominous lurking around.
A dirty, nasty cold/flu that seems to be knocking my friends and family out one by one. I woke yesterday with a sandpaper throat and what felt like two corks in my sinus’. Immediately I started trying to knock it out before it did me in.
Water (a lot of water), raw garlic (mashed into yogurt), oil of oregano and two full glasses of Green Juice later, and I seem to have come out victorious. I had plans to share a galette today, but in the spirit of health, I thought I’d share the recipe for the green juice that I’m adamant saved my ass from this TKO cold.
Spicy Kale Ginger Lemonade
based on Café My House’s version
The ingredients are pretty rough here. Taste and adjust based on what you like best. This method is for those not lucky enough (like myself!) to have a juicer. It takes a little more time but it’s well worth it.
1 bunch kale (curly or lacinato), rough chopped
1 large apple (2 small), skin on, cored and rough chopped
Juice from 2 lemons
1/2 english cucumber, rough chopped
large handful flat-leaf parsley
2” ginger, peeled and rough chopped
1/2 - 1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 - 1 cup water
Place all ingredients in a blender with the 1/2 cup of water. Blend until everything is combined in a sludgy mess. Place a mesh strainer over a bowl and pour the contents of the blender into the strainer. Using a spoon or a potato masher (I have the best success with the masher, but it’s whatever works for you) and work the juice out of the pulp until it’s fairly dry. Taste and add more lemon if needed. Chill the juice or pour over ice and serve.
Finding My Past in Food [Healthier Egg Salad with Tarragon and Pickled Celery]
My past with food isn’t as glamorous as I sometimes wish it was. I didn’t learn to mix, knead and roll pasta with my grandmother on Sundays and I wasn’t teetering on my tip toes, nose barely reaching the counter, while my Dad taught me how to break down a chicken, sear it to a golden brown and simmer it in tomatoes and capers, olives and hot peppers. It wasn’t my reality. There are times I feel nostalgic for the stories of those whose family and food lives were wrapped around each other like a sturdy vine, but I forget that I, too, have a past in food, glamorous or not.
The older I get the more I remember the things I did learn about food from my family. They may not be the stories I longed for or the romantic ones some of my friends and peers can tell, but they were the ones that shaped me. My Dad passed along his fearlessness towards all food. Mold? Just cut it off and carry on. Leftovers there for a while? Details, details - just eat it. Expiry dates? A mere suggestion. He joked endlessly about liver and onions, terrifying my sister and I at the thought of having to join him at the table. He ate any cut, any way. If there was something on a menu that he hadn’t heard of before, there was an 80% chance it would arrive in front of him minutes later. At the time I may not have appreciated his ways with food, but theses days I embrace them. He made me a fearless eater, never one to turn anything down, never afraid to try anything at least once. Especially creamy, mayonnaise-filled items like chicken salad, egg salad, any kind of canned meat… I was my fathers daughter and it made me proud to say that I liked what he liked.
Years later, when it was just my mom and I living in her place, I learned how to cook the first meals I made for my friends and first real boyfriend. Meaty spaghetti sauces studded with big hunks of tomato (something that made my sister squirm in disgust), tomato soup jazzed up with a hit of Worcestershire sauce, tabasco and melted cheese slice that I still crave today when I’m under the weather, dreamy whipped mashed potatoes that I can still claim as the best I’ve ever had and still make today, much to Al and my friend’s delight. She taught me that cooking for people made them feel special and showed them how much you cared for them. It was a high I still haven’t come down from despite not getting into cooking until I was about 24. Sunday dinners at her place brought us all together so we could slow down, laugh hysterically and tell our stories from the week. I still relish her cooking and it always makes me feel important and loved when she cooks for us.
My best friend, Amanda, is Lebanese. She comes from the kind of food background that I’ve always longed for. Her mother cooks everything from scratch. When I used to go there, back when I was only just learning to love cooking, I remember seeing hot peppers from her garden drying on the window sill. Amanda explained that she would grind them and use that as seasoning in her dishes. That nearly blew my mind. Do people do that? Don’t spices come from a clear jar with a sage-green lid in the spice aisle? She would feed us labneh, a soft cheese made with strained yogurt (also homemade) and I would sit, bewildered at her dedication to feeding her family ingredients that she pulled from the garden or created from a few humble items in her fridge. Her cooking is a nudge to her past, rich with tradition and memories of Lebanon. I remember Amanda always felt a bit weird about her entirely ethnic lunches (at least to suburban kids who ate french fries or peanut butter sandwiches for lunch), and I would be lying if I said we weren’t all a bit put off by them in the high school cafeteria, but those are the meals I now hope I can feed my kids someday. Meals rich in culture and tradition, meals that have a past and a story to them. Meals and ingredients that I made with my two hands. Ones that I might even be able to say Mary Melhem, your Aunt Amanda’s mom, taught me about when I was just a bratty 10th grader.
All of these stories shaped the way I cook, the way I eat and my relationship with food. Though I longed for more then, I realize now that I couldn’t want for any more. Fearlessness and an open mind, the knowledge that cooking equates to loving and that making a meal for someone is the best way to show them you care, and a dedication to create meals from scratch for my family and share the tradition and stories behind them.
Egg salad always reminds me of my Dad. He liked his creamy and mayonnaise-filled (expired or not) and studded with green olives. I haven’t eaten egg salad in a long time but when I do, I prefer mine a touch healthier and with plenty of flavour from tarragon, pickled celery and hot sauce. I still thought of him as I spread it thick on bread and took a monstrous bite as the salad pushed out the sides like toothpaste.
Healthier Egg Salad with Pickled Celery and Tarragon
makes 4 sandwiches
Though this recipe is mostly mine, I did use Smitten Kitchen’s idea of picking the celery. This adds such a welcome kick of sour bite to the salad without having to bite down on a pickle. Unless you’re into that sort of thing, in which case - add a few pickles diced really tiny.
Hard boiled egg method courtesy of 101Cookbooks. Follow it to the tee and you’ll have perfect eggs every time.
1/4 cup (2 stalks) celery, diced
1/2 cup pickle brine (from dill pickles, sweet gherkins, pickled jalapenos)
6 hard boiled eggs, method follows
2 tbsp plain Greek yogurt
1 tbsp fresh tarragon, minced
1 tbsp Tabasco sauce (or favourite hot sauce)
1 tsp dijon
1 tbsp caper berries (2 tbsp if you really like them)
1/2 tsp salt
plenty of fresh ground pepper to taste
sliced whole wheat bread
romaine, kale or greens of your choice
Place the diced celery in a pickle brine of your choice. I used jalapeno because I wanted that spicy kick. Let it sit in the brine for at least 45 minutes up to overnight.
Have a bowl of ice water ready. Place your eggs in a pot and cover by 1-2” with cold water. Bring to a gentle boil, turn off the heat, cover and let them sit for exactly 7 minutes. Plunge into the ice water and let cool for at least 3 minutes to stop the cooking process.
Peel the eggs, place in a big bowl with the celery, greek yogurt, tarragon, Tabasco, dijon, capers lots of pepper and salt. Mash everything together, paying most attention to the eggs, until you’re left with a well combined, coarse textured salad. Taste and adjust to your liking. Spread a nice, thick layer onto bread and top with greens of your choice. Place the second slice of bread on top and take a big, messy bite.
Was your childhood ripe with tradition and history in food or did you have a past similar to mine?
Finding the Warmth [Apple Cinnamon Steel Cut Oats]
Today we need comfort. A reminder that amidst the cold, dark world we live in, there can be warmth.
As we all hold our collective breaths, scared of what might happen and scared of who might do it, it’s hard to feel the warmth. Hard to remember that there is so much good surrounding us; good that undoubtedly trumps the evil. Even though it may not seem so right now.
If you’re struggling to find the warmth, let me offer mine. I can’t physically hug you all, but I can fill you with something warm that might withstand the cold until you’re able to find your own warmth.
We’re thinking of you here in Canada and sending our warmth.
Apple-Cinnamon Steel Cut Oats
This recipe is simple - you’ve likely had a version of it before and it’s easily adaptable to whatever you have on hand. This is something I make for my boyfriend when he’s sick or feeling low so I share it in hope that it might provide the same comfort to you.
1 cup steel cut oats
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups milk
1 sweet apple, cut into 1/2” dice (skin on or off)
1/2 tsp (or more) ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 cup brown sugar (more to taste)
1/2 cup nuts (walnuts or almonds are great), toasted and chopped
Bring the oats, water and milk to a boil. Reduce head to a simmer and add 3/4 of the apples (save the others for garnish), cinnamon and cardamom. Cook for 20-30 minutes or until oats are chewy but cooked through.
Remove from heat and stir in the brown sugar. Taste and add more cinnamon or sugar if desired.
Spoon into bowls and top with remaining diced apple and toasted nuts.