Tuesday, September 20, 2011

When life gives you green tomatoes...

... you make green tomato salsa!

I will admit, I had low hopes for our tomato crops this year. The fact that any of them grew at all was a pleasant surprise. The fact that most of them thrived and gave lots of fruit was astounding.

That fruit, however, is still green on the vine and with the warmer days now fading behind us I know the chance of them ripening soon is slim.

So tonight I picked three of the ripest ones, as well as a small but pungent bunch of cilantro and one tiny jalapeño pepper. Chopped it all coarsely, added some salt, lemon juice and olive oil and voila! A very delicious and super-fresh green tomato salsa.

Nothing goes to waste around here!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Help me identify these berries!

These berries came from bushes on our hillside, but we're not sure exactly what they are. Can anyone help?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Growing Radishes = Gratifying

Thank goodness for the radish. I was beginning to think I had black thumbs, but those tiny seeds have renewed my hope! They are so easy to grow and mercifully quick as well. If there's one thing I am learning from my gardening adventure this summer it is patience. Things are growing out there, but they are doing it at their own pace. So each time I check on the radishes and they've come up another quarter of an inch I am thrilled! I'm looking forward to grated radish salads very soon.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Homemade brownies from cocoa powder

I am almost ashamed to admit that, until last night, I had never made homemade brownies from scratch. I knew it could be done, but had never done anything other than mix up a batch from a box.

Never again... the brownies I made last night were fantastic, with a rich chocolate taste and a dense, cake-like consistency.

Here's my recipe:
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cold large eggs
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup walnut pieces (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8" baking pan with parchment paper.
2. Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a stainless steel mixing bowl and set the bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water. Stir until the butter melts. The mixture will come together like a dough and will look a bit grainy. When all the butter is melted, remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside briefly to let the mixture cool a bit. It should be warm, not hot.
3. Add the vanilla and stir with a wooden spoon. 
4. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring to combine completely after each one. 
5. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir vigorously until it is completely blended in. Stir in the nuts, if using. 
6. Spread evenly in the lined pan.
7. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until the blade of a paring knife comes out slightly moist with batter.
8. Cool completely before cutting.
Lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into 16 or 25 squares.

(My version is amended from this Epicurious recipe.)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Black Radish and Walnut Slaw

photo courtesy www.uniprix.com
Last week we came to acquire some black radishes.

I had never seen nor cooked with these before, so I did a little research and found out that they are a winter favourite in places like Russia and France.

Some sites suggested cooking them like a turnip, but that didn't sound terribly appealing.

Instead, I decided to make a salad. First I peeled the radishes, though I don't know if that was a necessary step. Next time I might try leaving the skin on.

Then I grated them (I used three medium-sized radishes) and finely diced one stalk of celery. I had some spare dill and mint around, so added a little of that, along with a thinly sliced shallot and some chopped walnuts. Lightly dressed with white wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper -- it was delicious!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Judging a recipe by its cover

I have stacks - and I mean STACKS - of cookbooks. But I haven't cracked any of them open in ages. They're neatly packed away in boxes in the basement, waiting till we move to a home where I can get them up on to shelves.

In the meantime, I turn to the internet when I need a recipe. My mother had a recipe box where she filed away her favourites. I have a folder of bookmarks in my browser. There are a few sites I trust to give me decent results each time - BBC Food, Epicurious, the NY Times (though now that the paywall is up I will be using that less) - but more often than not I end up using a recipe from a blog I've never heard of.

The results can be hit or miss for sure. Many home bakers use way more sugar than I normally would, for example. But there are some amazing cooks out there and one of the best things about the internet is the way it connects us all together.

I have taken to using Google's image search in conjunction with a web search to get to the best recipes. That's not to say a recipe without a photo or with a bad photo will not give good returns, but I like the ability to see what I'm going to get before I dive in.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Quiche, from scratch, in less than an hour

I've made quiche loads of times before but before today had never attempted my own crust. But high on the success of my sfeeha (middle eastern meat pies) last week, I thought I'd give it a go and soon found out it is super easy!

I took one cup of flour and forked it together with 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a large mixing bowl. Then, using the same cup measure, I whisked together 1/4 cup olive oil with 1/4 cup cold tap water. Once it was thick, I poured it into the flour and mixed together to form a dough. Press that into a 9-inch pie pan and it's ready for the quiche filling of your choice!

I went with spinach, mushroom and cheese, and also threw in a little bit of red pepper that I had lying around. The spinach was the chopped, frozen kind so that needed to cook first. Then, I lined the crust with the chopped mushrooms and red pepper, added the cooked spinach, then poured over a batter made from 3 eggs, 1 1/2 cups milk and about 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese, seasoned to taste. 

Bake the whole thing at 400º F until the crust is golden and the center of the quiche is firm, about 30 minutes.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Quick and easy pickled carrots

For a jar this size (20 oz), use about 2 cups of white vinegar.

Add salt and sugar to taste and dissolve completely before pouring over the carrots. I used about 4 tablespoons of sugar and 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar, but play around with it to get it just right for you.

Optional: add sliced chili peppers and/or julienned ginger.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

My favourite cheeses

In honour of National Cheese Lovers Day, here is a selection of my favourite cheeses:

Friday, January 07, 2011

The smell of zucchini bread on a snowy day

I'm not ashamed to say I frequent the discount produce rack at the supermarket. There are often things on there that are clearly past their sell-by dates, but just as often there are perfectly usable, if ugly, fruits and vegetables.

Two days ago I bought a bag of zucchinis that were not too beautiful. I used two in a vegetable soup and two more today in a nice and easy zucchini bread. One of the best things about this recipe is that it doesn't require a cake mixer, which is good since I can't find mine!!

Here's the recipe:


3 eggs, beaten
2 cups grated zucchini
1 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons vanilla
3 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
OPTIONAL: 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1. Grate the zucchini and combine with the beaten eggs, vanilla and oil.
2. Sift together the dry ingredients.
3. Using a spoon or rubber spatula, combine the wet and dry ingredients.  Add the walnuts, if using, and mix thoroughly. Mixture will look like a thick batter or wet bread dough.
4. Grease and flour a loaf pan (or a lined muffin tin). Pour the batter into the pan until about three-quarters full.
5. Bake at 350°F for 50-60 minutes (20-30 minutes if using a muffin pan).

Non-non-dairy creamer

Um.... FAIL!

"Non-Dairy Coffee Creamer. Contains: Milk"