Thursday, July 2, 2015

Summer Fruit Punch

I'm having a lazy day today, just kicking around the house.  The sun is shining and I have a good book handy.  All I needed was something to quench my thirst.  I normally don't pay much attention to Jamie's Drinks Tube channel (which is an off-shoot of his Food Tube channel) but Jamie posted his first ever non-alcoholic video, and I was sold.  :)

479.  Summer Fruit Punch (Jamie's Drinks Tube)

Jamie's Drinks Tube Video

 I just happened to have a few fresh strawberries left from the weekend, along with half a lemon.  My herb garden is so overgrown it's not even funny.  So I sliced up some berries, zested the lemon, picked some thyme tips and mint leaves, and threw everything into a glass pitcher. 

The one thing I never really got about infused water was how it really got much flavour. I figured the fruit was just being wasted, really.  Maybe I just wasn't paying attention, but Jamie hammered the point home when he said to boil the kettle, and think of it like a tea.  You need to let it steep for 15 minutes or so, before adding the ice.

You can see everything floating around in there, right after the boiling water was added.  It's still looks like water. 

But look at the difference a few minutes makes!  I added the juice of half a lemon, a tray of ice cubes and stirred.  I couldn't believe my eyes.  It actually looks like fruit punch!  And flavour............mega flavour.  I was tempted to add a pinch of sugar or honey but stopped myself.  That would be missing the point.  It's very refreshing and sugar-free.  :)

Monday, June 29, 2015

Rain Rain Go Away

Another Monday, another meal plan!  I spent most of yesterday in the kitchen, since my backyard resembles a marsh, and my gardens are full of mud & weeds.  I did venture out to pick some beet greens but that was about as far as I got!  I'm hoping for a few days of solid sun to dry things up this week, so I can do some weeding.  Last I checked, I had green tomatoes starting, the beans were climbing like crazy, and the arugula had gone to seed.  Things are getting out of control!


What have I been eating lately?   Sandwiches of "Muenster-mash" cashew cheese, turkey summer sausage slices and sweet potato curry bread, along with fresh tomatoes. A quick, gluten-free buckwheat chia bread pudding made with fresh strawberries (but no recipe, I just threw it together and it worked). Roasted potato & asparagus salad with an avocado-dill dressing (from Anna Jones' book A Modern Way To Eat). Lots and lots of salads using fresh garden greens and balsamic vinaigrette. Vegan doughnuts. OMG the blueberry fritters from Saturday's market were to die for!

I made a batch of 10 Spice Vegetable Soup (with cashew cream) from the Oh She Glows cookbook yesterday.  It's a very chunky soup, what some would call a stoup.   I love the bright orange of the carrots and sweet potato, and adding a can of beans makes it very hearty and filling. The creaminess achieved from soaking cashews and blending them with vegetable stock is a revelation!  It should do me for lunches all week.  I also made a half batch of vegan mini cheesecakes in jars to eat with some local strawberries from the farmer's market.  Sadly, one of the jars cracked when I put it in the water bath, and I lost it, but I still have two left to enjoy.  :) 

Monday - mushroom perogies with pan-fried asparagus and mushrooms
Tuesday - tomato/cucumber/avocado salad with sauteed shrimp
Wednesday -  Canada Day - BBQ I hope!  Burgers, salmon, beets, fennel, peppers.....
Thursday -  Jamie's Vegan Mac n Cheese and a big garden salad
Friday - roasted squash and Farm Boy Thai turkey sausage

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

15 Minute Meals: Arnold Bennett Frittata

I picked up 15 Minute Meals tonight and it opened right to this page.  Seriously!  It was obviously meant to be.  I had to substitute a few things, but I was planning on eggs anyways and I had already defrosted a salmon filet.

478.  Arnold Bennett Frittata (Jamie's 15 Minute Meals, page 140)


I have no idea what Arnold Bennett has to do with anything - maybe I need to re-watch this episode.  The subtitle is "with Focaccia and Emmantal Waldorf salad" but I didn't have either of those (and can't eat dairy anyways).  So I went with a buckwheat chia bread, toasted, and used grapes in place of apples because they were there and needed eating.

The first step is to poach the fish in boiling water with bay leaves.  While that was happening, I let the kids take over the kitchen to make themselves eggs, because I knew they wouldn't like the taste of the pan after I finished with it!  I assembled my ingredients on the counter.  In place of watercress, I picked some garden greens - baby beets, arugula & mesclun lettuce.

I didn't bother measuring anything.  I whisked two eggs, added some frozen peas (defrosted), chopped a green onion and some fresh mint.  I heated the pan with a bit of oil, added the egg mixture, moved it around a bit, then topped it with some flaked fish.  I put the pan under the grill for a few minutes until the eggs were cooked and puffed up a bit.  I threw my greens together with some chopped chives, a handful of red grapes, a few walnuts, and a lemon/EVOO vinaigrette.

This was a really quick meal, and a great way to add some extra protein, as well as lots of veg.  My nutritionist is always on my case about bumping up the protein content of my meals.  I don't usually think of fish and eggs as going together, but they do! 
Jamie's next project is apparently a vegetarian book.  He's having trouble selling the TV people on it, though.  I really hope he succeeds.  I can't wait!  <3 p="">

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Tuesday tidbits

I made a great vegetarian/vegan dish the other night, from A Modern Way To Eat by Anna Jones.  It's a dahl, but it incorporates coconut milk and veggie stock into the lentils, and then is topped with a coconut chutney and roasted sweet potatoes (or in my case, roasted butternut squash).  I added a couple of handfuls of fresh arugula from the garden, in place of spinach, and topped it with fresh garden cilantro.  Delish!

I'm late to the game this week because I took yesterday off work.  I love me a long weekend in the summer, and there just aren't enough of them to go around!  So I'm just now figuring out what we'll eat this week.  Yesterday I went to Signatures: A Taste Test Of London's Best 2015 for lunch.  It was $20 for 30 different restaurants, each giving out samples of their food.  There was no limit to how much you could eat, as you could go back for seconds or thirds if you wanted!  It was for a great cause, so I wasn't upset that the dairy-free and vegan options were quite limited.  I was glad to see Organic Works there!  Since their bakery is vegan, I knew I'd be ok.  :)
Tuesday - lunch was sushi out, dinner will be pan-fried eggs & asparagus with toast (one of my favourite quick meals)
Wednesday - left over dahl for lunch, chicken tray bake for dinner
Thursday - left over dahl for lunch, left over chicken tray bake for dinner
Friday - perhaps another BBQ.....sliced fennel bulb in foil.....burgers, dogs, peppers on skewers....

Monday, June 8, 2015

Tuna Piadina & a rough meal plan

Yesterday I was in a bit of a cooking frenzy, for some reason.  It was stormy out, so I put the oven on and roasted a butternut squash and some kale chips and squash seeds, plus I baked a broccoli cheese casserole for the fussy kid.  I also pan-fried him a steak, and decided to make myself a "cheezy" treat.

477.  Tuna Piadina (Save With Jamie, page ??)

I went to the grand opening of an organic produce store on the weekend, and they had a vegan cheese stand.  Amazing!  I bought myself a wedge of coconut cashew Brie to try.  Of course, I still have some different varieties of Daiya cheese in my fridge to use up, so I took out the Jalapeno Havarti to substitute for cheddar in this meal.


I chopped up half of a red onion and half of a large apple, combined them with a swig of sherry vinegar, and added a drained can of tuna.  Apparently a can of tuna is 6 oz in the UK, whereas here it's only 4 oz.  So I added another can of tuna and a bit more apple, seasoned it with pepper and a splash of Frank's Hot sauce.  I broke in the Havarti, and then scooped in two spoons of Daiya plain cream cheese.  I stirred this mixture up well and set it aside while I mixed up my flour, baking powder, salt and water for the piadina.

I probably shouldn't have waited until I was ready to drop to make the flatbread.  I found the dough very dry, and try as I might, I just couldn't seem to knead it enough to turn it into a smooth ball.  The fact that I bruised my ribs a few days ago didn't help, either.  I finally gave up and rolled it out the best I could.  I put it into an oiled pan to fry, but it didn't look very appetizing.  It surely didn't puff up enough to be able to split it in two, and it weighed a ton.  Next time, I will just use the food processor method Jamie describes in his Cheat's Pizza recipe.  I've had lots of success with that one!

I ended up chucking this out and using a store bought wheat tortilla instead.  I spread my filling over half, and folded the other half over the top.  I grilled it in the dry pan for a few minutes on each side until the filling was hot and the tortilla was toasty.  It was totally delicious (thankfully) because I've got tons of filling left over to eat!  Perhaps I'll give the flatbread another try when I have more energy.  If so I'll update with another picture!

Summer revolves around fresh veggies.  I have fennel, asparagus, kale, romaine lettuce, carrots, golden beets, cucumber, roasted squash, green onions, sweet potato, and tomatoes in the crisper.  I have arugula in the garden.  Lunches can be left overs for the most part, or salads with hard boiled eggs and nuts as protein.

Monday - left over tuna melts
Tuesday - kale/roasted squash salad
Wednesday - BBQ (turkey & beef burgers, sausages/hot dogs, veggie skewers, sweet potato, beets)
Thurday - out for dinner
Friday - tuna steak or salmon/trout filet (whatever I can find in the freezer!)

Monday, June 1, 2015

Monday and the sun is shining!

What a miserable, cold & rainy weekend.   Let's hope that June means sunshine and warm temperatures are finally here to stay!  I went to the farmer's market on Saturday in the hopes of getting the first of the local strawberries, and I wasn't disappointed.  I decided to try out another Oh She Glows recipe with them.

Granola Clusters recipe from Tastebook

I've been making Jamie's granola for five years now, but it's a bit time consuming because you have to stir it every 5 minutes so it doesn't burn.  This method looked interesting because you just pack it all together on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and let it cook solid.  Then, you break it up afterwards into little "clusters". 

The ingredients aren't that much different, except for the ground almonds (I used almond meal) and the buckwheat groats, and coconut oil rather than olive oil.

I think I've found a new favourite granola recipe.  This is to die for and it went SO well with my strawberries!  I also made a batch of vegan lemon pudding cakes in jars , and a pot of "everything but the kitchen sink" minestrone yesterday (to use things up).  That will be nice for lunches with tuna or egg sandwiches.
This week, I need to start cooking from the freezer.  My daughter unloaded a ton of meat into my freezer for the picky kid.  For this reason, I purposefully didn't buy a lot of groceries, other than some fresh fruit and veggies.  I also have baby greens ready to eat from my garden already!
Monday - pasta with avocado sauce & fresh garden arugula
Tuesday - (frozen) tuna steak with roasted beet salad & asparagus
Wednesday - out for dinner with a friend - chicken restaurant
Thursday - (frozen) chicken sausage and dairy-free mushroom gnocchi w sauteed mushrooms
Friday - out for dinner again - seafood restaurant

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Pilau Rice with Coconut and Coriander Pesto

When I want a really authentic tasting Indian dish, I turn to Indian Vegetarian by Mridula Baljekar.  It hasn't let me down yet.  Last night, I got ambitious and set out to make a tasty rice dish for myself.  I have a garden full of mint right now, and a crisper full of asparagus from the market.  So I chose Pilau Rice with Coconut and Coriander Pesto (page 162) and paired it with a simple cucumber raita.

This reminds me a bit of a dish that I learned to make in my friend Usha's kitchen all those years ago.  She called it Indian Rice with Potatoes and Vegetables, and she used frozen mixed vegetables and a diced potato, as well as the requisite onion.  Mridula's take on it is a bit more sophisticated!  She suggests frozen peas and fresh green beans, but I used what I had on hand.
My ingredients:
1 cup basmati rice, rinsed and soaked for 30 minutes
1 tbsp vegan butter
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 slivered onion
15 g chopped mint
15 g chopped cilantro
4 cloves
4 black cardamom pods, crushed
1 small cinnamon stick
1 green chile, finely chopped
1/2 cup frozen edamame, shelled
10 spears asparagus, chopped
1 small piece of ginger, grated
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut soaked in 1/2 cup water
1 oz raw cashews
1/2 cup sour almond yogurt
1/4 cucumber, diced
pinch of cumin
salt to taste
I started out by browning the cashews in the butter & oil, then putting them aside for later.  I combined the coconut & soaking water, garlic, mint, cilantro, green chile & ginger in the pestle & mortar and pounded it until fairly smooth.  This is a sort of pesto that I put aside for a few minutes, while I got to work on the rice.
I added the onion to the pan with the remaining butter & oil and sauteed it until golden.  Then I added the cloves, cardamom & cinnamon for a minute, then the drained rice.  I let this cook for a couple of minutes, then added the pesto and salt to taste.  A few minutes later I added the edamame and asparagus, then 2 cups of warm water.  Once this came to a boil, I turned the heat down and let it simmer for 8 or 9 minutes.  Then I stirred it, turned the heat off and let it sit with the lid on for another 10 minutes.
I quickly made a raita with the amazing, sour almond yogurt I buy at the market.  I added chopped cucumber, a pinch of salt, and a pinch of cumin and stirred it all together.  This is one of my favourite side dishes, especially for anything spicy.  Finally, I uncovered the rice and sprinkled it with the toasted cashews.
This was an amazing dinner, with so many flavours but nothing overwhelming.  Lots of green, lots of veg, I loved it!  And lots of left overs too.  :)