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.
Speedy Meatless Monday [Caramelized Fennel, Roasted Garlic and Tomato Soup with Lemon]
Spring may be inching closer, but that doesn’t mean the lingering chill in the air can’t be battled with a warm bowl of bright, fragrant soup.
Today’s meatless Monday dish has spent many cold, winter nights wrapping my bones in a blanket of steaming hot, vibrant red soup made rich with the addition of savory caramelized fennel and roasted garlic. The splash of lemon at the end brightens the deep flavours and balances everything out. It’s a lick-the-bottom-of-the-bowl sort of soup and one that’s especially well-received when there is little in your fridge to make a meal out of, as seems to be my case lately.
If your evenings are cool and you need something soothing, this soup will fit the bill wonderfully.
Caramelized Fennel, Roasted Garlic and Tomato Soup with Lemon
serves 2 as main, 4 as sides
1 large bulb fennel (about 1 1/2 cups), diced
1 head of garlic, roasted*
1 can (1/2 cup) tomato paste
4 cups chicken or veg stock
1 cup water
2-4 tbsp fresh lemon juice, depending on taste
salt and pepper to taste
fennel fronds, optional
Drizzle a pan over med-high heat with a few glugs of olive oil and let it get hot. Add the fennel and a few pinches of coarse salt and let it cook, stirring every 5 minutes or so, until deep brown and caramelized around the edges, 20-30 minutes.
Add the tomato paste and roasted garlic cloves and cook until the paste has deepened in colour and become very fragrant, 6-7 minutes. Add the stock and water, bring to a boil and stir, scraping the bottom of the pot to release all the flavourful bits of fennel and tomato paste. Turn down to a simmer and let it bubble away for 20 minutes. Puree if desired (I like it smooth, but there is nothing wrong with a chunky soup). Add lemon juice, 1 tbsp at a time and taste to see if you’d like to add more. Taste for salt and add more if needed. Ladle into bowls and garnish with fennel fronds and a drizzle of olive oil.
cut top off garlic, drizzle with olive oil and salt, wrap in foil and roast at 400 until golden brown, 30-40 minutes. Let cool, squeeze cloves out into soup.
Bright and Happy [Lemon-Herb Wild Mushrooms with Israeli Couscous]
Resolutions? Not up in here.
I’m not much for them. Setting myself up to feel badly that I haven’t kept a promise made 12 months prior isn’t my idea of productive. That said, I do usually try to start a new year off on a healthier foot. This is mostly because I have eaten and drank myself into early diabetes and alcoholism over the Christmas holidays. Am I over exaggerating? Unlikely.
Healthy to me means adjusting my eating habits, not existing on raw carrot sticks and lemon juice with cayenne for a month. Food is not the enemy and the people who make it out as such give me a wicked case of the face-palms. I’ve been filling up on better-for-you grains and swapping out my usual heavy pasta toppings with lots of quick fried vegetables and nuts. Finding dishes that are as delicious as they are good for you makes a healthy lifestyle adjustments a lot easier to stick to.
I always turn to my good friend, Fungus, when I need something rich and meaty… without the actual richness and meatiness. Mushrooms are the only vegetable that naturally contain Vitamin D. Any other natural food sources of Vitamin D are from animal, poultry or seafood origin. So when it’s mid January - late March and you’re missing the sun and feeling a little down in the dumps, grab a handful of mushrooms and fry them up. Your mood will be brighter and your tummy will be happier because of them.
I cooked this decadent lemon-herb mushroom dish on CTV Ottawa Morning Live today (see my nervousness here!) and wanted to get the recipe up right quick so you could whip it up over the weekend if you’re so inclined. I’d like that. I think you would, too! It’s going to fill you and and keep you satisfied through the afternoon if you have it for lunch, and would be super delicious with an arugula salad on the side for dinner.
Lemon-Herb Wild Mushrooms with Israeli Couscous
serves 4 as side, 2 as main
A note on browning mushrooms: Really take care to be patient when browning the mushrooms. Don’t overcrowd the pan or salt the mushrooms before they’ve browned. Don’t be shy with the oil, this helps dissipate the moisture in the pan and will help them crisp up.
1 1/2 cups dry Israeli Couscous
2 cups water or stock
1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tbsp lemon juice
fresh ground pepper
1 1/2lbs wild mushrooms (chanterelle, shiitake, oyster, porcini etc)
3 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, rough chopped
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 tbsp tarragon
3 tbsp fresh Italian/flat-leaf parsley, rough chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice
sea salt & fresh ground pepper
high quality olive oil, to garnish
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, to garnish (optional)
In a medium sauce pot over med heat, add a glug or two of olive oil (maybe 2tbsp) and th couscous. Let it cook, stirring every minute or so, until couscous is lightly toasted. Add the water or stock and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and let cook, covered, until couscous has absorbed all the liquid, 8-10 minutes. Add the lemon juice, parsley and a generous amount of pepper. Taste for salt and add more if needed.
While couscous cooks, take a heavy (cast iron would be ideal!) skillet and place over medium-high heat. Add a good layer of olive oil to the pan and place 1 layer of mushrooms down. Let them brown well (2-3 minutes) and them flip and brown the opposite side. Remove to a paper-towel lined plate. Repeat until all your mushrooms are brown and crispy and delicious.
Wipe the pan down and add 1 tbsp olive oil and warm over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook 1 minute. Add the mushrooms back along with the herbs, lemon zest and a pinch or two of salt. Toss a few times to combine and remove from heat. Add the lemon juice.
Spoon couscous into a serving dish and top with mushroom mixture. Sprinkle with pine nuts, olive oil and any remaining parsley. Pour a glass of wine (or seltzer if you’re being really good and healthy) and enjoy!
A Shift in Comfort [Chermoula Chicken with Toasted Almond Couscous & Coriander Yogurt]
And just like that, winter came. And liked us so much it decided to stay for 4 long months.
As the nipping air blows into town and we wrap our bones in layers over layers like flaky croissant dough around a piece of rich Swiss chocolate, I find myself feeling a constant power struggle in the kitchen. Comfort vs. Health. Does there need to be such a decision? Can’t we have it all?
The short answer is yes! We can! But there needs to be a bit of a shift in the way you prepare and buy ingredients for your favourite comfort foods. If you love macaroni and cheese, add the cheese to a pureed cauliflower or squash base instead of the classic butter-filled bechamel and use whole wheat pasta. Take time to learn how to adjust your seasoning with herbs and spices instead of salt. It’s not only healthier, but you really learn how to use all those little jars collecting dust on the shelf. Love a gooey lasagna? Try using thin slices of eggplant to replace the noodles, or place a spoonful of meat sauce at the end of an eggplant slice and roll it up like cannelloni There are so many simple ways to make the dishes we crave most when the temperature drops just a little bit healthier, we just need to be a bit more mindful of how we shop and what goes into our meals.
The dish I’m sharing today might not bring visions of couch-snuggling, wine drinking or cozy evening movie-watching to mind initially, but to me it’s as quintessentially comforting as a bowl of noodles and broth. The couscous with toasted almonds is surprisingly satisfying, the fiery chicken with it’s array of warm spices can take the chill out of any frigid evening, and the cooling coriander yogurt really brings everything together. All of these flavours of lemon, yogurt, coriander, paprika and cumin compliment each other so wonderfully your mouth won’t even realize you’re eating something packed with nutrition. I chopped up all the leftovers and tossed them together in a salad for lunch that I just happen to be eating RIGHT NOW. And let me tell you, if it tasted good the first day, you’re going to be blown away by day 2! And it’s lovely cold, as well.
Invite a few close friends over and serve this up family-style over the holidays. It’s a meal that’s meant to be shared and enjoyed together. And since you’ve already saved yourself a few calories, why not have an extra glass of wine with dinner? Live a little! I give you my permission.
Chermoula Chicken with Toasted Almond Couscous & Coriander Yogurt
adapted from Fork Magazine
6 sweet red peppers (if you can find the long skinny ones, those are best)
6 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
For the Coriander Yogurt
1/2 cup coriander (cilantro), minced
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
Juice + zest of 1 lemon
salt, to taste
½ tsp fresh ground pepper
Stir all ingredients until combined. Taste for seasoning and add more if needed. Place in the fridge until ready to eat. Can be made 1 day in advance.
For the Chermoula spice:
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp whole cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 small red chilli, chopped & seeds removed (substitute: ½ tsp cayenne pepper)
1 small bunch of coriander, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
Place all ingredients in a bullet or food processor and blend until smooth. Can be made a few days in advance and kept in the fridge until ready.
For the couscous:
3 cups cooked couscous
1 cup toasted almond flakes or slivers
2 tbsp olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt & pepper, to taste
Stir all ingredients except for salt and pepper. Add a few pinches of salt and fresh ground pepper and taste. Add more if needed. Keep warm in a pot over low-heat on the stove, stirring every so often.
For the Chicken and Peppers:
In a large container with lid (or a food-storage bag), add the chicken and Chermoula spice. Squish around until the chicken is coated and place in the fridge for 3 hours up to overnight. The longer you leave it, the better the flavour the chicken will have.
Bring a grill pan or cast-iron skillet with a couple glugs of vegetable oil to high heat until sizzling. Add the chicken and cook for 6 minutes on each side or until juices run clear. Keep the pan on the stove and remove the chicken to a plate to rest for a few minutes. Place the whole peppers, 3 at a time, on the pan and let the skin blacken and blister slightly, 3-4 minutes. Flip and let the other side blister. Alternatively, you can move your oven rack to the top ledge and cook the peppers under the broiler. Remove and slice the peppers into thin strips and place them in a serving bowl.
Pour the couscous onto a large serving dish. Sliced the chicken and serve over the couscous. Serve with Coriander Yogurt and Grilled Peppers.
Dinner for One [Grilled BC Sardines with Lemon-Herb Oil]
Eating alone is something I’m familiar with. Something I’ve grown to love, to cherish.
It gives me the opportunity to cook the things that I know Mr GL doesn’t appreciate. A time to be selfish and create dishes that I want to eat. This usually means fish, sometimes beans, maybe something consisting entirely of vegetables. Or cheese. Sometimes I get pretty awesome and just eat bread and cheese for dinner, panicking the whole time that I might get caught. Then I remember that I’m a big girl and can have whatever I want for dinner. Where’s the ice cream and whiskey?
Cooking for one wasn’t always something I treasured, but I’ve been doing it for so long that I’ve developed a list of quick and easy go-to meals that both satisfy and provide a health kick on those busy days that leave little time to muck about in the kitchen.
I know, ok? I know. I’m sure I just lost a few of you with that. Bear with me, I promise I’m getting somewhere delicious with these. We’re not talking about the oil-packed, greasy little suckers you find in the rectangle can with a twist key. I’m talking about big, fresh from the waters of British Columbia, sparkling and clear-eyed sardines. Inexpensive, sustainable and full of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, they make eating fish feel good. Really, super, incredibly good. And they are nothing to be afraid or apprehensive of. You should try them. You must try them. They are oilier than other fish, but they have the most decadent flavour. And you can grill them up in under 10 minutes and have a dinner-for-one that’s unrivaled.
Grilled BC Sardines with Lemon-Herb Oil
I grilled these whole, bones, head and everything. If you prefer, you can ask your fish monger to gut them for you so you don’t have to do it at home.
If you’re unable to find fresh sardines, smelts will do in a pinch but are smaller and require a shorter cooking time.
2 whole sardines, rinsed and dried
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 tbsp fresh sage
1/2 tbsp fresh thyme
1/2 tbsp parsley
1 small cloves garlic, pressed
zest from 1/2 lemon
juice from 1/2 lemon
fresh ground pepper
sliced lemon to serve
shaved fennel, optional
Preheat the grill to medium-high.
In a small bowl, mix the olive oil, herbs, garlic and lemon.
Rub the sardines with a generous amount of the oil and let them rest for 10-15 minutes while the grill heats up. When you’re ready to grill, sprinkle the fish with coarse salt and a few grind of freshly ground pepper.
Grill 2 minutes on each side, until skin is nice and charred and flesh is flaky. Brush with any remaining oil. Serve with a lemon wedge.
Serve sardines with shaved fennel drizzled with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. If you do want to filet the sardines, click here for details. But if, like me, you don’t mind picking through messily, then you’re welcome to do just that.
Find Your Joy [Lemon-Yogurt Linguine w Arugula, Sugar Peas & Roasted Hazelnuts]
Things have been sad this week. A close loss that’s left many feeling a constant aching numbness.
It never feels completely real - and leaves us all feeling slightly less invincible and secure of our place in life. I’ve been through a few of these by now, and I’m familiar with the unique numbness that only a death can cause a family, their friends, and their friends friends. The hurt and pain that seems to expand as wide and long as an ocean, tremendous and gaping, filled with grief and sadness.
My place in life, to be sure, is the mother hen. Always doting, always trying to offer comfort, whether needed or not, always acting out in hopes of a smile or even the slightest upturn of a frown. I have an unquenchable need to be needed, which can be a downfall at the best of times. I yearn to make others feel at ease, to usher away the bad thoughts and tears. Death is a hardship I am left defenseless against. It makes no mind of life plans or kindness paid. It’s ugly and mean and howls irrationally in the face of logic and love. It changes every single thing, in a mere blink.
Without being able to help or provide any lasting comfort, I’m finding myself increasingly lost. In moments of scattered thoughts, I turn to my kitchen, the only other thing that makes sense in a world of uncertain timing and premature endings. I’ve spent much time toiling in there this week, trying to make sense of life, to wrap my head around the why’s and the how’s. Of course, there will never be an answer - but it feels right to be surrounded by the beautiful ingredients, sun streaming through my dusty kitchen windows, everything placed on the counter with purpose and meaning. My kitchen is my joy. My truest happy place.
Life is far too short. Love hard and long, linger a while in the moments of happiness (and sadness), forgive quickly and find your joy, wherever it may rest.
Lemon-Yogurt Linguine with Arugula, Sugar Peas and Roasted Hazelnuts
A pasta made for my fellow lemon-lovers. Tangy, bright and tart balanced with peppery arugula, sweet sugar peas and a deep, toasty crunch from the roasted hazelnuts.
If I may, try to find some locally-grown arugula - it’s flavour is incomparable to that found at the super market.
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 cup olive oil
juice from 1 lemon
zest from 2 lemons
1 1/2 tsp good quality Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
pinch red pepper flakes
1/2lb linguine (I used whole wheat)
1/2 cup starchy pasta water
2 big handfuls arugula
1/3 cup hulled sugar peas
1/3 cup Roasted Hazelnuts (recipe to follow), crushed
Fresh Ground Pepper
For the Sauce:
In a bowl, whisk the yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice + zest, Dijon, salt and a few grinds of pepper together. Set aside.
For the Pasta:
Cook the pasta to Al Dente according to package instructions. Before straining, reserve 1/2 cup of the starchy cooking water. Strain and return to large pot.
Add 1/2 the pasta water to the yogurt sauce and whisk well. Pour into the pasta pot and toss well until the pasta is coated. Add the arugula, peas to the pot. Taste for seasoning, add more salt and pepper if needed. If the pasta is dry, add more of the starch water to loosen it.
Divide the pasta among plates and garnish with the crushed hazelnuts and a drizzle of good quality olive oil.
Preheat oven to 350° F.
In a baking pan toast hazelnuts in one layer in middle of oven 10 to 15 minutes, or until lightly colored and skins are blistered. Move nuts to a kitchen towel or paper bag and cover (or seal) for 5 minutes. Rub nuts in towel to remove loose skins (don’t worry about skins that don’t come off) and cool completely.
A Thyme Tequila [Lemon-Thyme Tequila Spritzer for Taste of Home]
Oh man! It’s Friday!
You know what that means, right? Time to roll up your sleeves, crush up some ice, and end your busy week with something icy cold and brightly flavoured!
Taste of Home asked if I might be interested in submitting a cocktail recipe for their “Cocktail Friday” feature on the blog. Clearly, we have yet to become too acquainted or they would have know that I would jump at the mere mention of the word cocktail. I am a lady who believes a day is not complete without indulging in a beverage of the alcoholic varaiety. Yes, I have ousted myself as a lush, but I’m sure this isn’t news to you. Avert your judging eyes!
I spent yesterday working on a Lemon-Thyme Tequila Spritzer that is as refreshing as it is soothing. Bright and citrus-packed with an herbal punch of flavour that first hits your nose and then delicately tickles your taste-buds.
Follow the link for the recipe and you’ll be thanking me come 6pm tonight when you’re happily sipping on the perfect summer libation!
[ps: bonus points to anyone who gets where I was going with the title of this post. I bet you clever chickadees got it right away!]
365 Days of Dining [Shrimp, Radish and Asparagus Salad]
And now for the news I’ve been holding back from all of you, my darling friends, peers and readers, for over a week of agonizing solo-excitement.
[Photo courtesy of 365 Days of Dining website]
About a month or so back, I applied for Tourism Richmond’s 365 Days of Dining while thinking to myself, “You’re not going to get it. But maybe you will get it. But probably not. But you never know, right? Ok. FINE. I’ll apply.” Thankfully, the thought that bellowed louder than the rest was, “If I pass this up, I will regret it.”
Sweet holy hot crossed buns! Am I ever glad I did. I found out last week that of the 1500 worldwide applicants, I have made the short list of 12. TWELVE PEOPLE. Can you believe that? I’m still waiting for Ashton Kutcher to pop through my front door and tell me I’ve been punked. (Does Ashton Kutcher even host that show anymore? I hope not. It was a stinker.) I digress..
Moving along, I just wanted to mention how incredibly, unbelievably, shockingly touched I am by the support I’ve received even just in the last few hours since the news was made official. You are all my constant inspiration to keep pushing through, working harder and hopefully someday (perhaps sooner than I thought?) make my dreams a reality. Whether or not I make the final 3, I am so touched, honoured and moved to have even made the top 12 in a group of 1500 talented individuals that I will forever remember this day. Truly, I am awed.
Now for the part I really dislike doing. I know you’re all busy and time is hard to find these days… however, starting tomorrow the voting portion of this job opportunity starts. The finalist with the most votes gets an automatic entry into the final 3… which is beyond imagination at this point. Tourism Richmond will choose the final two themselves (which I am glad for!).
If you can find a few spare moments to visit Richmond, BC’s Facebook Page, “like” it and vote for me, I would be eternally grateful.
OK! Now that the housekeeping matters have been taken care of, let’s rap!
I created this Spring Salad for the April issue of Centretown Buzz, a local newspaper I write a monthly food column for. I typically don’t blog about the recipes I write for the paper, but this one is so light and lovely that I just had to. Grassy asparagus laced with peppery thin-sliced radishes, hulled sugar snap peas, and meaty sauteed shrimps all brightened up with some lemon and finished with aromatic Thai basil and cilantro. To make things ever sexier (and less wasteful), I added a last minute addition of pureed pea pods, lemon and olive oil. It’s the perfect afternoon lunch to enjoy over a chilled glass of wine.
Shrimp, Radish and Asparagus Salad
Serves 2 as a main, 4 as a side
The directions in this recipe are quite vague so feel free to be creative and make it your own. The lemony pea-pod puree is optional, but it’s a brilliantly fresh, bright green flavour that really compliments the salad. It’s also a great way to be less wasteful.
small bundle asparagus, preferably tender, thin spears
5-8 radishes, cleaned and sliced thin
2 large handfuls sugar snap peas
10-15 large shrimp, peeled and de-veined
zest and juice from ½ lemon
1/3 cup dry white wine
small handful Thai basil, chopped
small handful cilantro, chopped
salt and fresh ground pepper
freshly grated Parmesan
lemon and sugar pea pod puree (recipe to follow, optional)
Snap off the woody end of the asparagus and slice each spear into 1 ½” pieces. Slice the sugar snap peas down the seam, and remove the peas into a small bowl.
Sprinkle the shrimp with a little salt and pepper. In a large saute pan over medium heat, add enough olive oil to lightly coat the pan. When the oil starts to ripple, add the shrimp. Cook 1-2 minutes on each side until cooked through. Toss in the radishes, asparagus, hulled peas, lemon zest and juice. Pour in the white white and turn the heat up a touch. Cook until vegetables are softened but still have a bit of crunch to them, and the white wine is reduced. Taste for seasoning and add salt if needed. Spoon into bowls and top with chopped cilantro, basil, lemony pea pod puree and parmesan cheese.
Lemony Pea Pod Pureé
zest of remaining half of lemon
generous squeeze of lemon juice
2 tbsp good quality olive oil
1 ½ cups leftover pea pods
Blend ingredients in a food processor, bullet or blender until smooth. Taste and add more lemon or salt if needed.
The Business of Success [Lemon-Scallion White Bean Patties]
How is success calculated?
Is fame the ultimate goal? Is it financial reward that must be received before you can say you’re successful at your craft of choice? Or is it simply being happy with ones work that denotes success?
These are the questions I’ve been asking myself recently. My time has been spent brooding endlessly over which path I will travel in these next few years, and what I hope will be at the end of the journey on both sides. Currently, I’m standing still at an unfamiliar, mid-twenties crossroad and haven’t ever felt more befuddled by my future. On the one hand, I have a full-time career, albeit one I’m not entirely (at all) passionate about, that pays the bills and keeps me busy. On the other, I have a hobby - this. Right here. Which I adore. I yearn for the recognizable sound of fingers delicately tapping keys, moving forks from one side of the plate to another all for the sake of a photo… and when I’ve had a few days away from the kitchen, from the camera, from the food… I feel a vacant space in the pit of my tummy where my ‘love’ lives. I think about it all day, every day and I would love nothing more than to jump head first into a career in writing, or simply in food. But therein lies the problem.
Amanda Hesser wrote an article yesterday about the business of Food Writing and her advice for future Food Writers. It was a discouraging article that needed to be written. As I read each word thoughtfully, I could literally see the shoulders of hundreds of thousands of aspiring food writers, like myself, slump forward in a dispirited sigh. Though the article was not without reward. I do urge you to read it, but the jist of Amanda’s advice was this;
- Don’t rely on your writing as your bread and butter. It is near impossible to pay your bills through writing alone - look for jobs within a desired area of the food industry and keep writing on the side.
- Work your ASS off. Literally.
- Get as much experience in as many areas of food as you possibly can - know your industry.
- Work for a company that’s making a difference and become an expert in an area of our food system.
- Pitch to magazines, go after a book contract
Once I had given myself a few hours to feel discouraged and brokenhearted about my future in food writing, I realized that the advice was more helpful than hurtful. And while I’m still assured it will take much determination and loads of long hours and hard work to clear the mid-twenties fog and find a befitting path, I do know that I am walking down the road I need to be on. I’m nothing if not determined and you mark my words, I will get there - be it now or in 10 more years. And if you’re an aspiring food writer reading this - I have faith that you, too, can work your little fingers to the bone and come out on top. This was the shake-the-dust-off-your-bones pep talk we all desperately needed. No more sugar coated encouragement.
With all of that said, let the love come in! We’re here for food and it would be rude for me to deny you that much.
Lemon-Scallion White Bean Patties with Asparagus Pesto & Simple Salsa
makes 6 large patties
The pesto here is lovely, but it does tend to be slightly outdone by the bolder flavours of the dish. I happened to have asparagus that needed to be used up ASAP and so I did. I would recommend making a simple cilantro or basil pesto if you want something that will stand up to the rest of the flavours.
2 cans white kidney or cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 large cloves garlic, pressed or minced
zest from 1 lemon
juice from 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup chopped scallions
3/4 cup bread crumbs (I used whole wheat)
pinch red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp salt
few grinds of black pepper
vegetable oil for frying
In a large bowl, mash the beans using a potato mashed or a fork (smooshing them against the side of the bowl works best for me). Add the rest of the ingredients and stir well until combined.
Form the bean mixture into patties about the size of a hamburger bun. Heat a non-stick or well-seasoned cast iron pan over medium heat. Drizzle a little vegetable oil in the pan and wait until its hot and rippled. Fry the patties, 2 or 4 at a time for about 2-3 minutes on each side or until nice and deep golden brown. Remove to a paper towel lined pan.
Small bundle asparagus (about the width of a toilet paper roll), ends trimmed, sliced into 1” pieces
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp toasted walnut pieces
2 tbsp grated Parmesan
1/4 tsp salt
Fill a small pot with water and bring to a boil. Add the asparagus and cook for 1 minute until bright green. Remove and plunge into a bowl of ice water for a few minutes to stop the cooking process.
Add the ingredients to a food processor and pulse until smooth.
Simple Cherry Tomato Salsa
It’s best to make this before you get everything else ready so it has some time to chill out and absorb all those spicy, delicious flavours.
1 pint fresh cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half
2 tbsp minced scallions or chives
1/2 jalapeno (less if you’re sensitive to heat), seeds removed, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
generous squeeze of lime juice
few pinches salt
Mix everything together and let it sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before eating.
Dollop each patty with 1 tbsp of the pesto and a spoonful or two of the salsa. Finish with some grated Parmesan, fresh ground pepper and a squeeze of lime or lemon juice.
Handmade Holiday #1 [Preserved Lemons and Oranges]
In the next few weeks, I’m going to be doing something a little different around here.
We all know how stressful the holidays can be, what having to buy gifts for not only your immediate family, but your in-laws, close friends, grandparents, and somehow you always end up getting a few things for people you’re not even sure why you bought for. I know I have a hard time figuring out how to make it all work while still being able to afford my rent and groceries.
We all know a homemade gift is cherished much more than something you swiped some plastic for, so in the weeks coming up to the big day, I’m going to give you some really great, as far as I’m concerned, homemade gifts you can create for very cheap to moderate prices for the food-lover, kitchen-guru or host(ess) in your lives. We’re not talking macaroni animals or painted egg ornaments here either, I promise. I’m going to try my best to keep the posts short and to the point since I know it’s not the easiest time of the year to lounge around reading.
First up on the list, Salt Preserved Lemons and Oranges. If you’re not sure what those are, I don’t blame you. I wasn’t so knowledgable about them a while back, either. Preserving citrus gives you an easy way to add tons of lemon/orange flavour to a dish without using very much. They’re preserved in a salt-brine and after hanging out in a jar for a month, the skins are soft and ready to be minced into your favourite dish. The uses for preserved citrus are endless, you can add them to couscous with roasted vegetables, mince into fresh salsa, chop up with green olives and garlic to garnish fish or chicken, garnish ice cream or a dirty martini, in a gremolata… I’m sure you can use your imagination here. Why preserve the citrus, you ask? Preserved citrus is to fresh what smoked meats are to raw meats. Still delicious, but with more depth, more flavour.
Give your food-loving friends a jar of these with a tag that explains some uses for them and I’m sure they won’t be disappointed.
Preserved Lemons and Oranges
I kept mine pretty simple and didn’t add any extra aromatics, but if you choose to, they would add another dimension of yummyness!
Since you’re intending for your friends/family to eat the rind of these, you should really try to buy organic or unsprayed cirtus.
2-3 medium-sized jars
2 of the smallest lemons you can find (Meyer would be great, but I wasn’t able to find any)
1 extra lemon for juice
3/4 cup or more of your favourite coarse salt (this is a good place to use that jar you’ve been saving)
small chili pepper (optional)
bay leaf (optional)
Working over a bowl, slice the pointy tip off the lemons. Slice in half from the bottom to top, and then slice each half again, from bottom to top.
Scrub each lemon slice really well with salt. Press into jar and give another good sprinkle of salt. Repeat until your jar is packed firmly with lemons. Give them one more generous sprinkle of salt and slice/squeeze the remaining lemon’s juice over the jar. Press them in there really good. Pour remaining juice and salt from the bowl into the jars.
Repeat the same process with the oranges.
Close the jars and place in the fridge over night. For the next 2-3 days, open the jar once a day and press the lemons/oranges down to help release the juices. Refrigerate for at least a month before use (tip: write the “Open On” date on the jar so your giftee knows when they are ready!)
When ready to use, they should be rinsed off well and the meat of the lemon should be removed. You only need a little rind, minced well, to pack a whole lotta cirtus flavour into dishes.